How far would you go to bring a dream to life? Crossing oceans, risking all and sacrificing true love, Beyond Bollywood is not just a show; it is a monsoon of emotion that brings the fire, heat and desire of Indian dance direct to the heart of London. That is how this show is described. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. At first I thought that Beyond Bollywood was going to be just a dance extravaganza but no, there is a storyline that goes with it. That being said, it is a predictable and not very interesting storyline. I suppose that hasn’t stopped other shows and movies being successful though. When the show opens, weirdly, we are introduced to musicians and a singer. I have to say that the male vocalist made the hairs on my neck stand up. Unfortunately, these performers all disappeared, and the remainder of the music was then, seemingly recorded, and the singing largely mimed.
The stage set here is quite amazing. It is made up of giant walls of (presumably) L.E.D lights to create dramatic backdrops that looked quite filmic and were even animated. This combined with the beautiful costumes and sometimes breath-taking dancing make for a visual spectacular. If there is anything to remind one that middle age is taking its toll it is watching a troupe of beautiful 20-something dancers with seemingly boundless energy on a Tuesday night.
The two leads in the story, Ana Ilmi and Mohit Mathur are both beautiful and talented. Indeed, toward the end Mathur is dancing whilst carrying two adults. There is also no doubting the talents of all the dancers which makes one think that maybe this should have just been about the dancing and the attempted drama should be scrapped. Also, the deep, booming voiceover which moves the “action” along but was also responsible for instructing the audience to “Give your mobile phones a rest” at the beginning could have been omitted.
The first half was 90 minutes long. I think that maybe some people mistook this for being the entire show as, during the second half I had nine empty seats either side of me. I did check myself but I was still my exuding my usual fragrance of lemon, pineapple, violet, chocolate, and vanilla. (I won’t use the brand name!) It is a shame really, because there was plenty of room for Mr Smith however, I was there alone, and feeling more alone as the audience depleted around me.
Suddenly, amongst all the dancing and colourful costumes we then, seemingly are transported back to the 1970s. For a bizarre reason a gay character is introduced. Seemingly, this is for no other reason than to include some borderline homophobic jokes that would have barely raised a titter in “Are You Being Served.” To see this kind of crass humour on a West End stage in the 21st century was somewhat disheartening. The addition of 7 boys in sparkling hot pants, dancing to “It’s raining men,” whilst a not unattractive site did very little to erase the fact that this was all an outdated premise.
Therefore, if you want to see some incredible dancers with as many costume changes as Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra then go along to see this show. If you’re bored with the “chick flick” genre of stories, then you probably should see something else.
Review by Dickie Neil
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Wednesday 20th May 2015