Hunks on tap!
At a time when everything seems to be making a comeback – from tea dances to vintage clothes and swing classes to trapeze acts – tap is enjoying a much-deserved resurgence of its own. And hunky tap at that! No doubt comparisons will be made with the hit stage show Stomp, but Tap Factory is a very different show, with much more varied content and dancers with a lot of strings to their bows.
The thing with this particular type of dance is that – while being incredibly skilled – it can look effortless, making it potentially less engaging to watch than ballet, acrobatics or opera.
This is possibly why Choreographer and Artistic Director Vincent Pausanias decided to draw on a long career in the theatre and incorporate other elements into Tap Factory such as drum percussion, displays of acrobatic prowess and slap stick comedy.
The whole performance is stripped back, raw and intimate, with just one backdrop throughout and a tiny cast of eight performers – interestingly all men – who tap their hearts out on anything they can find. Who knew you could make beautiful music with a set of step-ladders and some sand?!
If that wasn’t impressive enough, they also perform somersaults at the drop of a hat and death defying circus tricks. And, oh yes ladies, at one point the shirts DO come off – revealing some totally ripped bods! Now if that isn’t engaging…
It’s hard to believe there’s no band at all, just one drum kit and anything else they can make noise on – think big barrels, drink cans and wooden steps.
The cast is an international ensemble of dance champions, including the beautifully named Jérémie Champagne (as surnames go, this has got to be my favourite) who, apart from being a dead ringer for Manuel in Fawlty Towers in looks and comedic talent, was also a finalist of So you Think you Can Dance in France. Another stand-out is Konan Kouassi a dancer and choreographer who specialises in traditional African dance, but who also sings with the most beautiful haunting voice.
While there isn’t really much of a plot – a group of factory workers dancing in blue overalls – there isn’t any speaking either, something you don’t instantly notice because you are so drawn to the performance.
This is where Director Pausanias has used his nouse – the absence of dialogue gives the performance instant global appeal without the need for translators or scrip re-writes (the tour started in France before travelling to Germany and the UK; it will finale in China in November). It’s funny too, think Charlie Chaplin meets the Dream Boys but in tap shoes. What’s not to like?
A tap dance student who happens to be watching the show is seriously impressed: ‘They’re phenomenal.’ he said. ‘Tap is incredibly difficult – a foot wrong is instantly audible, particularly when six dancers are tapping side-by-side and in perfect sync. The speed is super impressive too – it’s exhausting to tap that fast for a minute, let alone a whole show!’.
So, Tap Factory is a high octane, highly talented, highly watchable show that comes highly recommended. Our audience gave the boys a standing ovation and thunderous applause, so that should tell you all you need to know! It’s at the Theatre Royal Windsor until this Saturday 23 July, so you’ll need to be quick! Tickets £13 to £29. Box Office: 01753 853888.
Tap Factory, Theatre Royal Windsor www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk