Reviewed by Gabriel Hershman
I had never before seen a production by The Algarveans, but their recent performance of Richard Harris’ comedy, Stepping Out, surpassed all my expectations.
Stepping Out tells the story of a predominantly female group of amateurs who join a tap dance school in a church hall – akin to a musical version of Chorus of Disapproval. They overcome inhibitions to evolve from awkward ingenues to confident performers and, eventually, stage a charity production under the tutelage of Mavis (Karen Healey).
The fun lies in watching them mature in their quest to ‘ride the tiger’. Among the more finely sketched characterisations are lonely widower Geoffrey (Paul Capper) – the token male – surly Sylvia (Chrissie Spencer), pathologically shy Andy (no, she’s a woman too – Diane Cantillon Ings!), and nosey-parker Vera whose indiscretions antagonise everyone – a particularly enthralling performance from Gloria Costa in a uniformly excellent cast.
The fun comes from watching these disparate individuals come together and form a coherent whole. The great feature of this production, directed by Alison Slater, was the exquisite comic timing, from all parties concerned. And the tap performance at the end was truly professional – congratulations to everyone on a superb production!