Lord of the Dance is a classic – or so it should be.
To fully explain the phenomenon that is Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, I will take you through the evening chronologically.
Having seen the show in 2012, I knew what to expect and could not wait for the Little Spirit all in gold to take the stage with her flute and accompany us through the travels of the Lord and his fight against Don Dorcha, the Dark Lord.
The show is a traditional fight between good and evil, the good usually being a group of women, exceptionally at ease on their tiptoes, like ballerinas, but performing steps a brain can hardly process, and the bad guys being the army of men, stomping – rhythmically of course – onto the stage and dancing at a speed your eyes now cannot even register.
This is still the basic premise of Dangerous Games.
It starts with a rather enticing look back at the twenty years on stage the show is celebrating.
And the enticement ended there. What followed was a scene from Star Wars (I researched, to make sure I do not use Star Trek in the wrong place). What appeared on the back drop screen was a glowing red version of Darth Vader or possibly a cyberman from Doctor Who. My heart goes out to the little pre-teen sat a row in front of me, who may well have nightmares for the next few weeks.
What followed could only be described as a scene from a bad sci-fi film, turning into a 90s animation backdrop with waterfall, pink corals and unicorns (this is an actual description, not a hyperbole).
While the dancing is still original, the new staging was simply distracting. I eventually found a comparison which I still believe to work: It was a trip to Vegas – not in a good way.
The show was created as though we have an attention span of three to five minutes; each act had to be completely new, with a different setting and fake background. Each set up in itself was over the top, a pop singer had a few songs in between dances, which was not adding to the show. Rather than the incredible skilled dancers, the focus was often on how much skin they would show off, to a point where the audience yelled “take your top off” when the men came on, ignoring the dancing altogether.
Just before the intermission came the first original dance scene: The show’s title in lights on a dark backdrop and the full dance troop giving it their all – it was fantastic and got a roaring reaction from the crowd. So why was it introduced with a red exploding planet first? We will never know.
In the second half, an army of cybermen (forgive my Doctor Who references, but it is my only sci-fi knowledge) with glowing red eyes and neon green stripes on their bodies appeared, followed by a scene from My Little Pony, with waterfalls and fake rainbows.
There were also beautiful couple’s dances with a glowing pink moon in the background and a fantastic solo by the evil woman representing “temptation” with a backdrop of purple and green human eyes. Still better than the eyes staring at you from inside trees in a glowing red forest!
But as if they knew we preferred the pure dancing acts, the show picked up a little in the second half, showcasing some of the iconic dance moves I had been craving to see again for five years.
Overall, it was rather disappointing to see such phenomenal dance skills pushed to the background of a show by special effects. There was more Riverdance in a hologram act of Michael Flatley and in the planned encores. The best parts remained the ones which were true to the original Lord of the Dance: The group acts, the scenes of the Little Spirit trying to take on the army and the simple and elegant ending.