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Posts Tagged ‘Irfan Shamji’

American Clare Barron’s play is, well, very American. Ostensibly about the competitive dancing circuit for young teens, it’s more about growing up, searching for individual identity. I struggled to engage with it

I liked the start, where dance teacher Pat is laying out the route to the nationals, via Philadelphia and Akron Ohio to the giddy heights of Tampa, Florida. He tells them he’s created a routine about Ghandi, then discovers they’ve never heard of him. The dance competition journey is funny, capturing the obsession and competitiveness of such things in the American psyche; think pageants.

It took me a while to realise the cast of all shapes, sizes, races and ages were all playing 13-year-olds. They take it in turns to step out and tell their growing up story, their hopes and dreams, in scenes which are more serious and darker, filled with preoccupations of menstruation and masturbation. I suspect this will mean more to those who were once thirteen-year-old girls! It’s structure is a bit like A Chorus Line, though with tales of teenage angst rather than self-obsession and insecurity.

It’s good to see Brendan Cowell back (or maybe he hasn’t left) though the part is nowhere near as challenging as Yerma or Galileo. The seven ‘girls’ are all excellent, with Miranda Foster doubling-up brilliantly to play dance moms. Irfan Shamji was very good as the solitary boy dancer in this troop. I thought Samal Blak’s mirrored dance studio set, mirrors revolving to become competition stages and dressing rooms, was excellent.

I admired it rather than enjoyed it, no doubt because it was so far away from my life in so many ways.

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