Jack Studio Theatre
Reviewed – 21st June 2018
“There are moments where darker or more serious subjects are hinted at, which could have been pushed further”
“Remember the three T’s”, Mavis tells her class of tap dancers, prior to their first public performance. “Teeth, tits, and taps.” That’s right, it’s time to get those jazz hands out and tapping feet at the ready for the latest production of the heart-warming show Stepping Out. In an updated, 21st-century twist on the 1984 play by Richard Harris, this new version is charming and convivial, a bundle of easy-going joy to watch.
Former professional dancer Mavis teaches adult tap dancing classes every Thursday night in a grotty, north London church hall for the locals. The bumbling bunch of ladies, and Geoffrey, who regularly attend, lean more towards having two left feet than twinkle toes. And to top things off, Mavis must resolve the spats and dramas that explode between this motley crew, before any dancing can commence. Whilst the play may feature around (rather unsuccessfully) learning dance routines, it is the love, laughter, tears and tales these everyday folk share with one another that makes the audience want to keep coming back to class with them.
Christina Meehan as Mavis holds everything together wonderfully, giving a very naturalistic and earthy performance, a nice contrast to the loud, mouthy brashness of the likes of Sylvia (Jessica Brady) and Maxine (Lynn Beaumont). Emily Sitch and Sean McDowell give understated yet just as powerful turns as the quieter members of the group, Andy and Geoffrey. Whilst, Helen Jeckells as the no bars held OCD housewife Vera offers some of the best lines of comedy gold throughout the show.
The story may be rather slight, with no real dramatic plot line, but what makes this kitchen sink-style play so likeable, are the recognisable characters whom we all can associate to our own lives. It is the sense of familiarity that truly makes this a winner. There are moments where darker or more serious subjects are hinted at, which could have been pushed further, however, it must be remembered that class is a place where these characters throw away their everyday troubles and want to let loose. Consequently, with the addition of catchy classic swing band tunes and top hats and canes, you yourself will be tapping your way out of the theatre before you know it.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by David Ball
Jack Studio Theatre until 7th July