Richard Harris’ popular and frequently revived play about the world of amateur dance was written in 1984 and is set firmly in the early 1980s.
Much like Alan Ayckbourn’s 1970s farces, it’s a product of the style and culture of the time in which it was written. The women in Harris’ play have lives that mainly revolve around men. Their weekly tap dancing class is the only escape from the confines of relationships that haven’t worked out the way they hoped.
In Paul Robinson’s slickly directed production, Claire Eden’s bawdy and hilarious Sylvia keeps the momentum going, Gemma Page’s accidentally insensitive Vera manages to get everybody’s backs up by just being herself, and David McKechnie’s Geoffrey is a study in limp passivity, until the moment he isn’t. But it is Joanne Haywood, as the put upon, yet magnanimous Mavis who evokes the most sympathy, without ever overtly expressing a desire for it.
All the performers are light on their feet and thanks to some intuitive choreography by Erin Carter, it feels completely believable that dancers of this quality would emerge from a church hall tap club.
Helen Coyston’s detailed set design coupled with some clever scene changes makes for a nostalgic, but absorbing and joy-inducing experience.