Left – Tom Cunningham and Morgan Comer. Photo – Brian Doherty
“We’ve come too far to be second best,” booms the voice of Michael Flatley during the pre-show trailer at Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games. This short film contains approximately three to five minutes of Flatley touting his achievements as Lord of the Dance over the last twenty years, tooting his own horn, as he is wont to do. And for good reason, too; Lord of the Dance’s popularity never seems to wane, and audiences flock in droves to see this sparkly spectacle of clacking feet and waving tresses.
Somehow I have gone all these twenty years under his Lordship without experiencing this Irish dancing phenomenon first-hand, though it’s hard to escape its influence in popular culture. Now that his army of Celtic high-steppers are at Crown theatre, I had a look in. And while I was impressed with some aspects of the show, I have to admit that for a good portion of the time, I was preoccupied by one particular thing that lessened my potential awe: is the tapping pre-recorded?
The shoe sounds coming over the loudspeakers seemed implausible, but I concede that theatre techies have knowledge far above and beyond what my modest training has provided me. So I watched their feet with an eagle eye, looking for any slight misstep that would show me that they were out of sync with the “soundtrack.”
I thought to myself, if I’m right and the sound is pre-recorded, then what a shame for all those who believe it to be live. And what’s more, what do their clackings actually sound like? Then I thought, if I’m wrong, and it is live, then how on earth do the people on the soundboard control the tapping to such a fine degree? One minute a dancer’s shoes make thunderous noise, the next minute they are silent as a ninja. Are the mics on their shoes or under the floor? It was a baffling conundrum I couldn’t solve without the aid of Google.
So I took my concerns to the web, and the search results were, well, inconclusive. I can do nothing but wonder and abandon my conspiracy theory in favor of analysing the overall content. The show is kitschy and flashy, and quite frankly, a little bizarre, what with all the unicorns, robots, flames, and looming overlords. I’m not quite sure of the specifics of this particular tale of good vs. evil, but I do know that I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
The costumes range from sparkly prom night numbers to Lorna Jane workout gear, with a little bit of bra and undies in between. There are cheers from the crowd for both the bare-chested young men and the young lass who cannot stop directing us to her posterior. There are several musical interludes, three featuring a singer who delivers some bland power-ballads and two featuring two blonde fiddlers in sequin-coated stilettos who just can’t keep still. Oh and pyrotechnics. There are plenty of pyrotechnics.
We never get away from simplistic dichotomies throughout the show, good vs. evil, men vs. women, blonde vs. brunettes, ensuring we don’t have to do too much thinking while we’re watching these young people stamp and flit their way across the stage. The new crop of Lords have a big sequined belt to fill now that Flatley’s passed into the two-dimensional realm of performing via projections and DVDs, but I’m sure they’ll be just fine.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games
Venue: Crown Theatre, Perth
Dates: 15 – 20 September 2015
Times: Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday-Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 1pm & 6pm
Tickets: From $69.90 (Booking and transaction fees may apply)
Bookings: 136 100 | ticketmaster.com.au
ALSO Touring nationally – visit www.lordofthedance.com