The Wedding Dance

Nitro Theatre Company
Written and Directed by Felix Cross
Liverpool Everyman (3rd-7th April 2007)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Salsa, which plays an integral part in this production, is described as hot and up tempo Latin music, but The Wedding Dance proved to be downbeat and pedestrian. Some have compared it to West Side Story - I think not.

The play, is based in both Havana and London, but is not served well by a lot of stilted dialogue, with Jose (David Gyas), one of the two salsa dance teachers, often mumbling his words and therefore inaudible. Jose has moved to London to complete his medical studies - if he completed them in Cuba he would not be allowed to leave the country.

I must admit it got confusing at certain points of the play as to actually where the action was taking place - is it in a bar in Havana or in a bar in London?

The other teacher, the sexually charismatic Kathleen (Troy Titus-Adams), is the most adept of the dancers on stage, with her high kicking routines, but she fails to come across as an authentic character. Other than knowing she is a dancer you don't discover anything about her except that she used to go to school with Jonathan (Ben Bennett), who she describes as "a capitalist pig."

This is unlike Jose, who has no qualms about wanting to bed all the women (although not at the same time!) who attend the dance lessons.

However Kathleen makes a wise observation when she states that Salsa encourages dance partners to show love and passion to each other when on the dancefloor, but once the music has finished that is the end of the desire. As is said in the play, is it little wonder that people get confused about this unwritten code of conduct.

Despite the joyful nature of Salsa, a dark undercurrent runs through the play - virginal Miranda (Madeline Appiah) had earlier fallen for the charms of Jose - and this sexual liaison triggers off the tragic ending after the wedding of Miranda and God-fearing Julian (Anthony Mark Barrow). Both had attended dance classes in order to perform Salsa together during their wedding reception.

One of the most effective aspects of The Wedding Dance were the mysterious images projected from the back of the stage of the ritual dance of the Orisha faith - according to Google search Orisha are the powers or gods that constitute the cosmos. Sorry, but I have no idea what these images had to do with the content of the play.

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