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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Tap Dogs
Novello Theatre      Summer 2010

Six guys dressed as construction workers tap dance for eighty minutes. That's about it.

They dance in tapped working boots, gym shoes and wellies. They dance on wood, on metal, on various platforms, up and down ladders, and in water. They dance in relative quiet and on microphone-equipped surfaces that amplify every tap.

They dance a capella, to music and to the rhythm of a pair of onstage drummers. They dance while setting up the set, while sitting down and while hanging upside down. They dance on differently-tuned drum pads, creating melodies and harmonies.

They dance behind a partially raised curtain, so we can only see their feet (homage to Tommy Tune there, perhaps). They dance while dribbling basketballs. They dance in the dark, shining torches on their feet, and with blindingly bright lights in our eyes.

They dance individually, in various combinations and as a group. They dance with the air of casual improvisation that covers a carefully disciplined precision.

This isn't elegant Astaire-type tapping, but closer to the half-crouch eyes-on-the-feet Savion Glover style, though perhaps less aggressively anti-elegant - the goal is to be both macho and graceful, in the Gene Kelly mode, and they frequently achieve it amidst the general (and genial) clomping about.

The concept of dancers-as-ordinary-blokes was originally created by Australian choreographer Dein Perry fifteen years ago and is here newly choreographed by Perry and directed by Nigel Triffitt with a cast of two Australians, two Americans and two Brits. (TV name Adam Garcia gets lead billing, but the guys are essentially anonymous and interchangeable.)

There's no escaping the fact that there's a certain repetitious quality to the show - after all, gimmicks aside, the guys are doing essentially the same thing, with a relatively limited dance vocabulary, for eighty minutes.

But there's no question that it's entertaining and frequently exciting, and it moves fast enough, finds enough variations and doesn't outstay its welcome, so you don't get much chance to be bored.

It's ideal family entertainment, a great (and potentially inspirational) treat for budding Billy Elliots out there, and never anything less than fun.

Gerald Berkowitz


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Review of  Tap Dogs - Novello Theatre 2010