Nitro Theatre Company
Written and Directed by Felix Cross
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
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.