REVIEW: Stepping Out at the Chichester Festival Theatre

The charm of this show should be in its intentionally rough edges: a bunch of well-meaning but rhythmically challenged students of an evening tap class put aside their differences for a bit of escapism.

Wednesday, 9th November 2016, 12:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm

But when the rough edges are not intentional – as is the case in this production – it is its undoing. On paper it seemed promising: a star-studded cast, including Amanda Holden of red buzzer, SuBo-sobbing fame, and a glimpse of a show destined for the West End.

But what audiences got was little more than a rehearsal. Scene changes were clumsy, punchlines were missed and the actors’ energy levels felt like they were filming for television, not performing to a live audience.

Bar Tracy-Ann Oberman’s enjoyable depiction of the gobby Maxine (imagine Pam from Gavin and Stacey meets Del Boy), all the characters felt one-dimensional.

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Holden’s scenery-chewing portrayal of Vera picked humour over pathos, and as Lynne the nurse, Jessica Alice McCluskey blended into the background. The cherry on the cake was the fleeting portrayal of a gay stagehand which was stereotypical at best and offensive at worst.

But the real shame was the material. There were one-liners a plenty, which when they landed got the audience going, but the plot was rushed with an unsatisfactory ending and hints of character back stories were either shoe-horned into the script with no explanation or failed to materialise.

I hope it was a case of first-night nerves, because parts of the show are funny, and could be brought alive with more nuanced acting.

Until Saturday, November 19.