Friday, May 06, 2016

'Kiss Me Quickstep' by Amanada Whittington

6 May 2016

On Saturday we were at Oldham Coliseum Theatre to see 'Kiss Me Quickstep' – a new play by Amanda Whittington co-produced with the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, directed by Theresa Heskins. The play opens with a young man walking into an empty ballroom, gazing around awestruck and uttering a single word: “Blackpool”. This is the story of three couples competing at the British Amateur Ballroom and Latin Championships in the Empress Ballroom at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. It's a fairly slight tale but nicely told with a good balance between humour and poignancy – and the dancing was excellent. The action takes place on two consecutive days – the interval neatly dividing the ballroom from the Latin, and providing the opportunity for a complete change of costumes. When you know your dance steps, watching actors pretending to ballroom dance can be excruciating but the cast of 'Kiss Me Quickstep' were clearly all very accomplished dancers. The lead actors were joined by a community cast of local amateurs to provide several spectacular dance sequences which filled the Coliseum stage. Amanda Whittington's research (at Blackpool Dance Festival) was meticulous: even the conversations about dance steps and routines felt believable. And her script is very witty: at one point local girl Nancy insists that a rival couple whose car has broken down and can't get home must stay the night at her house. Nancy says “We'd be delighted to have you … Cos that's what we do here. We're Blackpool.” To which her father quickly adds “Well, strictly speaking, we're Lytham.” 'Kiss Me Quickstep' is a feel-good celebration of ballroom dancing, described by its author as “life caught in a mirrorball light”.

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