by Dave Windass.
Hull Truck Theatre 50 Ferensway HU2 8LB To 30 June 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 27, 30 June 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 01482 323638.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 June.
Makes up in warmth what it misses in edge.
Hull Truck’s still-gleaming theatre forms a contrast with Sharon’s shabby dance-school, deserted by star partners Dean and Denise, who now hoof it elsewhere. Meanwhile, alongside Sharon and daughter Tammy, frustrated at having to partner women, Bernie provides a longer view, looking back decades to his youthful partnership with Sharon.
Then Tammy meets talented newcomer Paul, who’s there to please his dad. Who wants to carry out his dead wife’s wishes. So the stage is set for a sentimentality-rush to crash through the ceiling.
There are more than enough rough edges. The midpoint crisis arrives more because it’s the midpoint than out of any necessity in the characters. The threat to the dance-hall from its callous landlord hangs by a thread, before being ripped away by an outcome suggesting the writer’s lost any interest he may have once had in it.
Windass veers between showing what’s happening and providing a narrator to fill things in. And as the play focuses on dance competitions, it comes against a major difficulty.
Catherine Kinsella and Benjamin O’Mahoney are capable dancers. As actors their characters engage our interest. But the choreographic ante’s upped by two pairs of competition-standard dancers in the choreographed sequences. These, particularly the Dean and Denise of Lewis Knaggs and Amy Bassett, are so good there’s no way the others could rival them, seen side by side.
Which means the actual competitions can’t be shown; instead the climactic moment has to be announced by a breathless Tammy running on stage with the result of the dancing we’ve not seen.
Why bother with the play then? Well, one cynic’s sentimentality can be another person’s feelgood factor, while Windass has a keen way with witty lines. And he’s from Hull. Even without his previous plays’ specific local subjects, his comedy somehow breathes the city’s spirit – and not just in a joke based on a noted feature of local pronunciation.
All presented in a friendly, communal way in Conrad Nelson’s production, where a conscientious, capable cast includes the wonderful Susan Twist, who combines a spirited lightness of manner with realistic expression of life’s tribulations.
Bernie/Trev: Alexander Delamere.
Sharon: Susan Twist.
Tammy: Catherine Kinsella.
Paul: Benjamin O’Mahoney.
Dean: Lewis Knaggs.
Denise: Amy Bassett.
Dancers: Emily Fox,
Janmes Spencer, Matthew Trowhill, Melissa Cardell/Jim Holt, Jean Holt, Julie Riches, Chris Spencer, Louise Rayner/Sue Gibson, Bill Gibson, Rob Swan, Anthony Convey.
Director: Conrad Nelson.
Designer: Dawn Allsopp.
Lighting: Tim Skelly.
Choreographer: Nicola Bolton.
Assistant choreographer: Lewis Knaggs.