Vibrant colour, sharp choreography and a score charged with electricity combine in Spies Like Us’ latest work ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ to make for some real moments of energy and excitement.
‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ tells a story of lies, jealousy and deceit – exploring a time when many are at their most vulnerable (just after graduation) and questioning just how far one might go for money. The production follows a gradual yet palpable rise in tension, enhanced by a number of exquisitely well-choreographed and well-executed movement sequences. Spies Like Us are clearly an incredibly close-knit group: their onstage chemistry is undeniable and it pays dividends when it comes to the incredibly slick aforementioned physical aspects of the play.
However, the performance as a whole is let down somewhat by what I can only assume was a questionable allocation of priorities in their rehearsal process. Yes, the physical theatre side of the performance is undeniably fantastic (in fact, the cast should be commended for their dedication to such moments and their ability to keep the same brilliant level of energy up right through to the end), but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the comparatively lacking moments of dialogue. This is a cast that is clearly highly responsive to music: the underscoring of the movement sequences and some moments of dialogue with lively techno definitely boosted the general energy of the performance. The cast failed, however, to retain their energy whenever the music stopped – leading to quite notable lulls in momentum. Am I saying that the whole play should be performed with the same energy as a nightclub scene? Of course not. Moments of stillness and reflection are obviously very important in such high energy works. But it was hard not to feel that the cast erred slightly on the wrong side of the line between calm stillness and disappointing losses of the tension that they had previously worked so hard to build. This unfortunately led to a few key moments and revelations in the play being somewhat missable – forcing the audience to have to work out what had happened later on in the performance.
Despite these duller moments, Spies Like Us have managed to create a piece that, from a production point of view, is truly spectacular. From the energising soundtracking to the stunning visual design (particularly in terms of lighting and costume), ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ is a real crowdpleaser. Audiences of this show are undoubtedly in for a good time with some moments of exhilarating beauty that the company should be truly proud of creating.