|Image Source: Liverpool|
Date: January 9 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre
Around twenty years or so ago, a new craze swept the theatre community. It was dance, or rather a form of dance that had never been seen on a mainstream scale before. It was presented by Michael Flatley, with his extremely quick and complex tap-dancing show Lord Of The Dance quickly becoming a massive success in the UK and beyond, reaching all corners of the world from America to Japan to Australia. Needless to say, it built up quite a reputation, as well as a very strong following.
And now, after providing several variants of the original show, Flatley presents his latest production, Lord Of The Dance - Dangerous Games. (Well, it was actually launched a while ago, but last night marked the new show's first bow in Liverpool, so the statement still rings true!)
For those unfamiliar, Flatley's shows tell a simple story entirely through dance. No dialogue, not even any on-screen speech to explain the plot; even music is only occasionally used, as I will explain. It is the dance routines themselves that comprise the content of the show, with even the actions that move the story along being handled through - yes! - dance.
The story of this show is a simple one, as the title Dangerous Games refers to a battle between Good and Evil, or more rather the Lord Of The Dance (James Keegan) and his team, inspired by the dreams of the Little Spirit (Jess Judge), against the evil presence of The Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and his band of Dark Disciples. There is also a secondary strand of a romance of sorts between the Lord and Saoirse (Erin Kate McIlravey), which is put at risk by one of the Dark Lord's assistants, Morrighan The Seductress (Andrea Kren). Only by watching the show, and the messages conveyed by the dances, will we know for sure if there will be a happy ending on all fronts, or if the Dark Lord and his merry men will achieve their evil goal, much to the chagrin and horror of the Little Spirit.
From an entertainment standpoint, the show will work mostly if the dance performances are of a high standard; fortunately, as one would expect, they are. The tap-dancing routines are exquisite and one can only imagine the training and hard work that has gone into ensuring that every routine flows with the story and is performed without a hitch, and to a very high level of quality. It is a testament to the performers, led by the very talented James Keegan as the Lord Of The Dance, that a show which relies solely on dance can not only tell such a story, but is very entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. There are also musical interludes, with the Little Spirit performing a flute version of the show's title theme, and some occasional vocal musical performances to break things up between the dances.
To me, though, the standout aspect of the show was the outstanding production. The background consisted solely of steps and screens, but the images shown on the screens were out of this world (literally, in fact). I don't want to spoil the show for anyone who hasn't seen it, but the visuals are extremely detailed and lifelike, boasting a huge amount of depth and colour to rival any Sony Bravia television advertisement, and they alone bring you right into a particular setting no questions asked, which is quite an achievement when you think about it. Add to that the odd use of pyrotechnics and some intriguing opening and closing scenes on the big screen starring Flatley himself, and from a production standpoint, the show is well worth seeing. It actually threatens to make the dancing secondary, which may not be intended but is a sign of just how good the backdrops are.
I am not sure if the show will necessarily be for everyone, as younger attendees may find the Dark Lord and his assistants to be a little too frightening, and of course, dance shows will only appeal to so many theatregoers, meaning that although the show is of as high a standard as one could expect, it still won't be to everyone's tastes. Nevertheless, it is the sort of show that could easily convert a non-supporter into a fan, which again illustrates the high level of performances and production on offer here.
So, If you're a dance enthusiast, or if you're familiar with the work of Michael Flatley, then Lord Of The Dance - Dangerous Games will be a real treat for you. If you aren't so keen on dance, you may find it harder to stay engaged with the show, but the combination of stunning backdrops and eye-catching routines will probably ensure that you still have an enjoyable time.
Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good