Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Burn the Floor - Shaftesbury Theatre, Monday 11th March 2013

Sorry – no cast list apart from Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihannof- I didn’t have time to get a programme before going in due to a mix up over getting the tickets. The Burn The Floor website is a bit of a mess and nowhere on it could I find a list of last night’s performers.

Oh, the glamour. Oh, the endless hobnobbing with celebrities. Oh, the champagne. Oh, the paparazzi. Love, the endless socialising I put myself through to bring you these reviews. It’s a bit like being one of the West End Whingers. Daaarling, we were all there last night (except, apparently, the West End Whingers. Z-listers, darling, Z-listers). Denise van Outen, wearing so much eye-liner she looked like she had been lent by the Chinese Government to take part in a breeding programme at Edinburgh Zoo. Lisa Riley, completely tanked up and bellowing like an elephant seal on ecstacy. Lewis Smith, muttering that so many people wanted his photograph that his interval ice-cream was going mushy. Arlene Phillips, who thought it was fancy dress and who had come as a Bag Lady. Russell Grant, who just popped in for the first half. Nancy Delolio, looking like an old leather handbag in drag and doing her best to rid the world of small furry animals by wearing several of them. Johnny Ball, looking bewildered. Suzanne Shaw – no, me neither. NotTheWestEndWhingers. Mwah, mwah, mwah. The only people missing were Brucie’s life support machine and Claudia’s fringe.

Well, darlings, if you like relentlessly upbeat music, arse-stretchingly tight trousers, glistening torsos and the occasional glitter ball, this really is for you. Subtle it ain’t. Its camp, cheesy and just that bit too overwhelmingly high-octane for its own good, really. Now, I’m not going to say that the cast can’t dance, because just watching them made my feet hurt. These guys and gals can move. Its just that, given the instruction to “Burn The Floor”, this show seems to want to take it literally. There is so much energy pouring off the stage that it pins you back in your seat like the G-force of a really fast take off and leaves you feeling like you’ve just been through a particularly energetic spin cycle in your favourite washing machine. Mind you, if anyone had thought to literally burn the floor, it might have raised the temperature a couple of degrees in the chilly old barn that is the Shaftesbury Theatre. What is needed with this show is the occasional bit of restraint as a counterpoint. A passing attempt at this is made with a couple of all-too-brief classic tailcoat and floaty dress ballroom numbers, but these are really the only breathing spaces the audience gets in two hours. There is so much relentless choreography that after about 20 minutes you stop registering it and – more importantly – stop appreciating it. There’s also a bit too much raunch – granted, there are some beautiful bodies on stage, both male and female, but a bit of decorous restraint doesn’t go amiss sometimes. You wouldn’t get Anton Du Beke prancing around shirtless all evening. Mind you, if I had a torso like some of the ones on show last night, I’d be walking around half naked on a practically permanent basis. I wonder why male dancers always shave their armpits?

The show’s putative stars – Mr. Windsor and Ms Rhiannof - are strangely and noticeably underused most of the evening. On several occasions they start a dance routine off, and you sit back expecting a powerhouse, showcase routine – and then they disappear, to be replaced by an ensemble. In fact, as far as memory serves, they only do one complete routine all evening. Still, its good that they are not so up themselves that they refuse to join in with the big ensemble numbers, but it has to be said that they do look, erm, somewhat mature when surrounded by the rest of the cast. Rhiannof has got the most gorgeous pair of pins and can vamp with the best of them, but it does occasionally get slightly embarrassing when her quarry looks about 15. Mr. Windsor tries hard to be butch but you can tell he’d rather be getting his sweaty paws all over the boys. There must have been poor visibility over the Thames last night because every time Mr. Windsor made an appearance, Foghorn Riley rattled the eardrums of anyone sitting within a radius of 500 feet. It was the shout of “Cooom on Ooncle Robin!!!” that finally reduced me to hysteria.

Musically it’s a real rag-bag, seemingly slung together with little rhyme or reason. Along with a classic paso doble number (nice to hear, but sounding incredibly out of place among the grunge), there is a stunning jazz performance by – I think – Vonzell Solomon, which literally stops the show in its tracks for a couple of minutes. This lady is one ballsy singer, absolutely born to be headlining in a smoky 1930s speakeasy in downtown Chicago and I would gladly have heard more from her. Her male counterpart suffers by comparison, but I’m not going to be quite as disparaging about his as Him Indoors was. He’s got a decent enough voice but sounds a bit forced in the upper register.

The show occasionally spills out into the auditorium – there is a particularly excruciating “audience warm up” session before the first half which I could well have done without. I don’t know whether this is a permanent part of the act or whether this was just a filler thrown on to cover a backstage delay, but its supremely naff. Mind you, its lucky it happened; due to an administrative mix up we had been told the show started at 7.30 when, due to it being Press Night (oh, the glamour!) it actually started at 7pm. It was 7.20 when we got into the auditorium and found it bewilderingly packed out, with the “warm up” in full flow. During the second half finale, the audience were so hyped up by the dancing in the aisles that I’m surprised Lisa Riley didn’t start ripping the seats out with her teeth. So, the Burn the Floor juggernaut rolls on, propelled by sweat, testosterone and enough raw energy to power a small town. Its not for everyone – its bewilderingly full on. A little more restraint at times would make it considerably less exhausting for the audience. Undeniably there is some major dance talent on that stage but if you’re fans of Anton and Erin, you might have to go home and lie down for a couple of hours afterwards.

Tickets kindly provided by www.showsinlondon.co.uk/

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