This novel dance show, set on an old London double-decker bus, was always bound to be a crowd pleaser. As we piled onto the top deck and every seat filled up, it was hard to imagine how any dancing could possibly take place in such a confined space.
But so sooner had the bus begun to move, than it was flagged down by a woman (Sacha Copland), in full flight and laden down with shopping bags. Inevitably the bus stopped for her, triggering a dance routine reminiscent of a comedy slapstick routine that Charlie Chaplin would have been proud of. Copland pulled it off with skill and apparent ease, involving the audience and setting the tone for the journey.
Later we met a coquettish and flirty character played by Lauren Carr, who danced and wound her way around the bus – stopping to engage people on the way, sitting on a lap or two and planting kisses gently when the mood took her. The token macho character (Brian Grannan) provided a little bit of extra silliness for those of us that might have been sitting still for too long, and the fourth dancer, Demi-Jo Manalo, really came into her own in a stunning dance sequence in the finale.
There were plenty of surprises on this journey, and not all of them took place on the bus. With a couple of detours on route, some of my favourite moments came when Carr cheekily, but charmingly, tried to entangle people from the public who were not a part of the tour at all. Their responses were hilarious, as she played along and brilliantly tried to encourage them.
Copland’s choreography was astounding in parts, and the choice of music allowed for beautifully devised movements. One synchronised dance routine, featuring the three women and set to French-sounding music, was nothing short of genius. The women moved effortlessly and with marked precision and grace around the bus, exploiting every inch of the aisle and balancing and perching on the narrowest of spaces. And it all happened while the bus was moving – no mean feat.
Eye contact seemed to be the name of the day for all four characters, and it was interesting note the audience’s responses. In such close proximity, it was sometimes uncomfortable. There really is no place to hide on a packed-out double-decker bus.
But this performance was a truly uplifting experience, with lots of audience participation and plenty to smile about. The last song “I feel good” by James Brown was strategically chosen, ensuring that we all went away with it ringing in our ears. A thoroughly entertaining show – and I’ll certainly never be able to look at a London bus in quite the same way again.