Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Stepping Out - The Opera House, Manchester

Stepping Out
Writer: Richard Harris
Director: Richard Baron
Reviewer: John Roberts

Stepping Out is currently touring the UK to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, but the question you have to ask is does it deserve to be revived or should the production be remembered for its award winning success almost a quarter of a century ago?

Set in a local church hall where the group of young and old women (bar one man) all gather for their weekly tap class, as they work towards a charity performance in the local theatre. Loosely based on the authors own experience of his wife attending similar sessions.

There is no doubt that Harris’ script is littered with fantastic one liners and situations that will guarantee a laugh, but it is the moments of emotion that feel slightly forced and convoluted, this is perhaps due to the almost vignette feel to the shows time frame, where we never really get to feel any emotional attachment to any of the characters on show.

Director Richard Baron, has all the right ingredients for a first class production. A great set designed by Ken Harrison a strong ensemble to carry the show, so why does this production fall flat rather than shine like the sequins on the finale costumes? The answer mainly lies in the pacing of the production, it feels overly long and never really seems to pick up and momentum throughout, the other lies in the incredibly annoying voices of some of the characters that don’t help endear them to the audience.

The cast are undoubtedly strong and look like they are enjoying their time on stage, with excellent turns from Jessie Wallace as loud mouth Sylvia, an endearingly lovable Geoffrey played with a gentle coyness from Brain Capron, and a great cameo-esque performance from Rosmary Ashe as Mrs Fraser the sharp tongued piano player. Other notable performances come from Katie Kerr as Lynne, Wendy Mae Brown as Rose and Lucy Williamson as Dance Teacher Mavis.

Going back to the first question at the beginning of the review, Stepping Out has some great performances but with poor direction and an incredibly slow pace one feels it just doesn’t hit the heights the show deserves for its 25th Anniversary.
Photos: Eric Richmond
Runs until Sat 10th Oct
frontpage hit counter