"They tap their troubles away"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 20/05/13

Richard Harris's tap-dancing drama is deservedly popular with the more ambitious groups, and it's not hard to see why.
A lovely range of ladies - plus the enigmatic Geoffrey, shipping insurer, widower and closet pianist - arrive at a drab church hall, eager for another class with the enthusiastic Mavis.
It's a form of escape from their lives outside, though, naturally, they can't help bringing baggage and back stories with them ...
Kytes' production is strong on the dance. Claire Hilder, who also plays the class teacher, has choreographed the tentative beginnings, the ragged rehearsals, as well as the two final numbers when the girls [plus Geoffrey] leave the church hall behind them to show what they can do in front of an audience. There is a magical moment when, in a slick time-shift, the routine suddenly becomes much more polished and professional.
The set - the mirror imagined on the fourth wall - leaves plenty of room for the footwork - the flats a little dull, even for a church hall, though we appreciated the appropriate flyers on the notice board. And it is unfortunate that this auditorium is not designed to let us see those flying Fred Astaire feet. Some audibility issues, too, in the commendably naturalistic dialogue.
Director Paul Sparrowham, a frequent and much-lauded performer on this stage, successfully shows us the eight people behind the fixed smiles, helped by excellent character work by a strong cast.
Gradually, we learn a little of their lives. "Alternative" Rose, with her striking tattoos [Laura Hughes], Maxine [Cindy Halliday] who could have made it in the profession, down-to-earth Sylvia [Chrissie Mallett], lonely Andy, with her secret sadness, impressively played by Kate Evans, nervous but enthusiastic Dorothy [Pam Ambrose] and the dutiful nurse Lynne [Shealagh White]. And of course, the fly in the ointment, new girl Vera who brings colossal snobbery and bossiness to the class - a great comic turn from Jackie Parry.
Two men in the cast this time, since apart from Gary Catlin's Geoffrey [nicely drawn, if not mature enough for his back story] there's the formidable Mrs Fraser, making cutting remarks not-so-sotto-voce from behind her upright, played superbly by Daryl Adcock with nods to Les Dawson and Hilda Ogden.
Not a great play, though a brilliant concept, but an enjoyable evening, combining that old "can-we-pull-it-off" plot-line with some impressive terpsichore and intriguing characters.

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