Stepping Out follows a weekly tap dancing class for adults of all abilities (including none at all), who are then asked to perform for a charity evening to raise money for Save The Children and from then on, the pressure is put on in more ways than one. When the cracks begin to show, it is up to Mavis (Christina Meehan) to hold the class together, but who is there to support her in return?
David Ball directs and choreographs a wonderful cast, including Meehan’s dance teacher Mavis, Helen Jeckells as the prim and proper (and at times, tactless) Vera, and Jessica Brady’s fun and saucy Sylvia. Meehan plays Mavis wonderfully as the ever- patient dance teacher, this role being the driving force behind the entire production, which Meehan handles with ease. Brady provides laugh after laugh, her comic timing impeccable, which makes the less jovial side of her character that much more significant. The entire evening the cast bounces off of each other, never slowing momentum and handling the laugh out loud moments with as much mastery as the more serious scenes, showing the impressive range of these actors. I must also mention Ceris Hine’s ditsy but adorable Dorothy, not only for her physical comedy but her character trait of repeating the last word of what someone else has just said, which seems to get funnier and funnier as the show continues.
Those who know about Stepping Out are aware of its larger than life characters and energy, so when I was told that this production would be held in the Brockley Jack Theatre- an intimate black box studio space- I was a little unsure. I’m happy to say that this apprehension was completely put to rest, with Richard Harris’ play, designed by Mali- Beth Roberts, to fit in any venue, whilst maintaining the fun and clarity of the piece. Stuart Glover’s transitions are covered with songs that we all know like Singing In The Rain and Jazz Ensemble’s Charleston! which have you tapping your way to the bar during the interval, and the quick scene change at the end of the show completely transforms the space for a grand finale.
This truly is a delightful evening, with the darker undertones of each character’s personal story giving it a weight that will surprise you. For a smaller venue, this performance packs a hearty punch that will have you beaming endlessly and step-ball- changing in your seat.
Stepping Out is playing Brockley Jack Theatre until 7 July 2018
Photo: David Ball