Thursday 29 June 2023

Social Dance review

In Social Dance, audience members have been invited to Suzie Spittle's dinner party in which she intends to present the first instalment of her 10 part lifestyle series "Etiquette in the Modern Age with the Spittles." Alongside her husband, two children and French exchange teacher, Suzie is here to help bring decorum and class back into our lives, but all is not all that it appears with cracks beginning to form in the Spittle’s facade of living the dream life.

Writer and director Laura McKenzie has designed the production so we are all seated around a large table setting with the Spittles. It's a great immersive approach to the show and while all the action happens around the dinner table, McKenzie allows her characters to move in the space and be active as much as possible.

Just like the chicken cooking in the kitchen, it takes a while for the story to warm up to its characters and revealing the dynamics at play between the four family members and their French exchange teacher. Once daughter Charlie shows off her spying skills and livestreams a private conversation between her parents to the room that things begin to come to a boil.

Social Dance aims to poke fun at the farcical troubles of the affluent and upper class society and while it does do that, its conclusion feels like a sudden channel change and goes too far beyond the world that has already been established, which makes it difficult to get on board with. There needed to be more of the absurd earlier in the work, and it could easily go there, to make this switch smoother or have a more grounded ending to honour what had come before.

The cast - Anna Burgess, Sam Zawadi, Heather Valentine, Pascale Fester-Bell and Andrew Hwang - share a striking energy but Burgess is a standout as Suzie. She displays the fragility of her character and brilliantly captures how desperately she is trying to keep the false image of happiness and bliss she is projecting.

Just as Suzie let us all so subtly learn, we can always refine and improve ourselves. Social Dance can also do with some work on finding the crux of its narrative and being more controlled in its world building. Even without our chicken dinner though, Social Dance provides a number of laughs and a charming immersive setting.

Show Details

Venue: Theatre Works Explosives Factory, 67 Inkerman St, St. Kilda

Season: until 1 July | 7:30pm
Duration: 80 minutes

Tickets: $35 Full | $33 Concession
Bookings: Theatre Works

Image Credit: Farrow Photography

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