Get your three T’s ready – tits, teeth and taps, of course. The truly tap-tastic sensation, Stepping Out is back once again and this time it’s at The Brockley Jack Theatre. Richard Harris’ early 1980s play (also an equally famous 1991 film starring Liza Minnelli) brings personal stories and a community of characters to centre stage.
Based in a North London church hall we meet Mavis, a clever and calming former-professional dancer who tries to teach some dancing skills to a variety of local enthusiasts. Though tap class isn’t the only thing on show – through weekly classes the audience gets to know every character, what makes them tick and the ongoing troubles they all have in their personal lives. This rendition, directed by David Ball, provides a slightly more modern adaptation to the 1984 script and the charm is still plentiful.
Christina Meehan is our Mavis and what a delightful watch she is. Meehan portrays Mavis’ mothering and mature demeanour beautifully and her character stands out in comparison to the other scattered and more wild characters she teaches. This makes her performance all the more heartbreaking later on in the show when she reveals her own personal struggles. The whole cast are each given their moments to shine, but particular standouts are Helen Jeckell’s perfectly-pitched and irritatingly provoking Vera, Jessica Brady’s brass and relatable Maxine, Ceris Hine’s increasingly hilarious Dorothy and Harriet Earle’s comically stiff portrayal as the pianist, Mrs Fraser.
Harris’ text has aged quite considerably and in today’s world where female characters have more to them than just a few descriptive words (the quiet one, the ditzy one, the rude one, etc), a lot of these women seem underdeveloped and their personal struggles aren’t given as much stage time as they deserve. Therefore, there are some missed opportunities for rewarding character development.
However, the show still provides a feel-good night at the theatre – but if this comedy wants to continue charming audiences for years to come, then the script must be adapted further than just by the year it’s set before it’s unfairly left behind and forgotten.
Ball’s production is fun and endearing and the likeable cast leaves nobody in the background. This production allows you to relax and just have fun – just like Mavis wants. That’s what it’s all about.
Review by Tomm Ingram
Dust off the tap shoes and join Mavis and an unlikely group of adult tappers as acclaimed British playwright Richard Harris take us on an evening of laughter, love and passion at a North London adult tap class.
Mavis, a former professional dancer teaches the bumbling tappers but before the dancing, she must mediate the dramas that erupt among this motley but loveable crew. When adversity, diversity, opportunity and ordinary come together, what is the result? A couple of time steps later and love and friendship are what really trumps this mix.
Three-time Off West End Award-nominated David Ball Productions brings you this heart-warming show that will have you tapping your way out of the theatre.
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH