Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough – until 3 August 2019
Reviewed by Sara Garner
Directed by Paul Robinson – Richard Harris’s Stepping Out has all the characteristics of a summer sensation for Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre. The sold-out audience eagerly awaited the start of the play whilst listen to 80’s pop songs with anticipation.
Set in the 1980’s in a church hall Stepping Out is about a group of strangers who come together for a weekly tap dancing class. We are quickly introduced to all 10 characters in the first set and during the play we learn to love them, find out their secrets and will them to overcome personal obstacles.
We met 10 people who all have found their haven of escape for 1 hour a week and each person has their own reason for attending. We have a shy, unconfident student nurse, a nervous, sensitive bullied wife, a brash, funny and sassy lady who has an underlying vulnerability, a quiet and introverted, awkward and grieving man, a Naïve, nosy enthusiastic lady with OCD, a scatty a clumsy lady, a proud religious and energetic lady, a lady that appears intimidating and confident (but secretly is insecure). They are led by Mavis (Joanne Heywood) the proud and nurturing dance teacher who is accompanied on the piano by Mrs Frasier (Fenella Norman) who comes across as pompous and opinionated but really is undervalued and ultimately caring. The cast of 9 Women and 1 man illustrate their characters perfectly through their dance movements throughout the show. Claire Eden (Sylvia) and Suzanne Procter (Maxine) where the comedy characters for us throughout the play and their delivery of one liners had the audience roaring with laughter.
Panic reigns in Set 2 when the strangers try their best to practice for a public charity gala under the easy-going but frustrated guidance of Mavis. Tensions and nerves rise, disagreements happen, harsh words are said, bonds are made and secrets are exposed, but can they dance in perfect harmony and escape the reality of their lives for just a few minutes?
This is a collaborative cast, each character playing their part well. Stepping Out has laughter, humour, shock, tears, grief, disappointment, love, resilience and a bringing together of unlikely friendships at a crucial time to pull off a stellar performance.
You can see how much effort each cast member has put into this play throughout and particularly in the last scene which had several of us on our feet applauding. The audience where smiling throughout the performance, let’s face it what’s not to love about the sound of tap dancing. The set design and costumes was spot on for the 1980’s with leg warmers in abundance.
Written by Richard Harris over 20 years ago Stepping Out has the feel-good factor, it will leave you feeling uplifted and is truly FAB U LOUS. One not to be missed.