Tweetingit: 4* Cool, fast and funky, the godfathers of tap are back…but please do not try this at home!
I first saw Tap Dogs around 20 years ago and took my Mum along as a reluctant +1; I asked her what she thought of the show?…and I quote: oh it’s alright but that’s not proper dancing, you’re just making a racket with your feet. Conveniently overlooking the required balance, rhythm and co-ordination, I couldn’t help thinking she had a point. They were without doubt brilliant dancers, but it was raw and lacked sufficient variation. Tap dancing would typically occupy a five minute spot in a film or variety show; beyond that timeframe it was a tad predictable. However, the group subsequently toured the world including a memorable appearance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Led by group founder Dein Perry Tap Dogs are now honed to perfection with a unique take on the art of tap
The Peacock Theatre has the most unspectacular facade, resembling a hideous 1960s office block. But inside reveals a once grand auditorium, now scaled back by present owners LSE to operate mainly as a conference centre. However, a contract with Sadlers Wells regularly brings dance to the venue. The show began in darkness; save for a solitary flashlight landing on a busy pair of feet; then more similarly active feet visible only from a long, narrow letterbox.
Then lights up and the dogs have arrived. Dressed in casual workman style clothes; jeans, tee shirts and combats, no spangles and frills here, the boys have stayed true to their steel city roots north of Sydney. The attitude shouts blue collar loud and proud. Hey, if Gene Kelly had been born 60 years later he would have been a Tap Dogs disciple.
The performance area initially looked disappointing; just a pile of scaffolding and boards, like an Ikea flatpack on steroids. However, a stunning visual display rose phoenix-like from the stage with a challenging, almost dangerous series of routines. The group worked solo, in pairs and full ensemble as they duelled and cajoled each other to greater heights.Each group member stamped their own personality on every step; street names gave the boys even more edge as Foreman kept the boys in line while 2IC, Enforcer and Funky kept the gang running cool, joined by Rat, Kid and Spot for the cheek of it and Rover holding it all together. They were backed by Caterina Percinio and Noriko Terada, two excellent percussionists who complimented the group’s routines perfectly.
Amidst the exciting visuals, there was also a great soundtrack, which was a bit like Genesis during their art rock phase (weird but interesting) to more fitting Shaft-like beats in the frenetic finale.Tap Dogs left me wanting more with a relatively short 80 minute performance, but that seemed just enough. A brilliantly inventive show but why exactly are Tap Dogs so cool? They are cool because you can’t explain why…they just are!
Created, Directed & Choreographed by: Dein Perry
Original Director: Nigel Triffitt
Music: Andrew Wilkie
Box Office: 020 7863 8222
Booking Link: peacocktheatre.com/whats-on/dein-perrys-tap-dogs/
Booking Until: 10 November 2018