Review: Lord of the dance; dangerous games at Blackpool Opera House

 The Dark Lord. Pic by Brian Doherty.

The euphoric musical moment that saw Michael Flatley tap his way to fame at the Eurovision Song Contest has created a unstoppable phenomenon that showcases the very best in Irish music and dance.

As the introductory sequence video to Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games pointed out, the show has sold out the biggest venues in the world ever since and created a love affair with everything this dance form has to offer.

I knew Michael Flatley was not appearing in this particular show (though he still does pop up on some prime time performances) but that didn’t matter – there is a plethora of young and exciting talent gracing the stage. They were really quite incredible in fact.

The dancers, the violinists, the singers, all danced and played their hearts out creating show stopping moments.

These moments aside, unfortunately the show as a whole is pretty baffling.

Once you have accepted the twee Irishness of the theme and become accustomed to the whimsical folklore-themed moving backdrop (i.e many, many, unicorns) you can settle a little but without any storyline apart from goodies and baddies, heaven and hell, red and black, it is very hard to follow.

I gathered that a wee sprite’s magical Piccolo was snapped in half then restored by the goodie at some point but apart from that it lost me.

Of course this show is not really about the story but about showcasing some remarkable barn-storming set pieces. It a lineup of individual acts – singing, playing and dancing with soft toe and hard tap shoe.

The dance-off style fights and the traditional lines of dancers at the end are the high points, with the male dancers definitely benefiting from the best of the choreography.

But despite the remarkable skill, talent and dexterity of the dancers (and I was very impressed by the violinists), it was hard to get into. The background music adds power but is overwhelming and makes you wonder if you are listening to anything truly live.

The costumes veer from the traditional to what appear to be dancing mutant ninja turtles (baddies) and I have no words for the moment all the girls suddenly turned up in their gym kit as if it was a non-dress rehearsal.

Though it pleased part of the crowd, the whipping off of the male dancers tops was a slightly cheap stunt and I’m not sure why all the stunning female performers needed what looked like a plethora of wigs. and the lap-dancing twerking bit – you what?

 Morgan Comer as the Lord of the Dance in Dangerous Games. Pic by Brian Doherty. Morgan Comer as the Lord of the Dance in Dangerous Games. Pic by Brian Doherty.

I cannot take away from the talent of the performers and the video of Flatley himself at the end was great but really quite an insult to those who danced their hearts out live.

A potentially great show with some fabulous talent which would benefit from stripping back and focusing on what Riverdance is famous for – the dancing.

NICOLA ADAM @jabberingjourno