With a title like Kiss Me Quickstep, you might think that Amanda Whittington’s 2016 play would be a sequin-bedecked comedy riding on the back of BBCs Strictly Come Dancing. But, though the play uses a major ballroom dance competition as a catalyst, it is more interested in dissecting the things that drive people to strive for perfection.
Justin and Jodie struggle physically and financially to maintain competition status, while Nancy’s domineering father uses bribery and violence to get her to the top. There are cracks in the partnership between UK champions Samantha and Lee too, as one begins to lose focus and takes to the bottle. In lesser hands, this all might have seemed cheesy and predictable, but Whittington grounds things in reality.
Kirstie Davis’ production is pretty close to perfect, Lucie Pankhurst niftily choreographs the action, and everyone in the audience gets a good view of the dance floor.
The cast, all of them accomplished dancers, capture the guts and glamour of the ballroom scene. Michelle Bishop brings a fragility to the character of Samantha, a woman trying to recall a childhood when dancing was fun.
Gary Robson’s manipulative Mick is utterly terrifying, while David Birch and Vicki Lee Taylor make an impressive double-act as Justin and Jodie.
This engaging co-production between the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, and the New Wolsey also features a cast of local amateur dancers for each leg of the tour, further cementing links between local theatres and the communities they serve.