Snapshots has got to be one of the most lively, fun and interactive performances I have ever been to. As one enters Bats you are assaulted by two lovely, if not extremely eccentric, tea ladies bearing goodies of every sort (for the record, the Belgian Biscuits and Yo-Yo’s were amazing, but the Cheese Scones were a tad flat) and two huge pots of tea. Decline these at your peril.
After having a wee nibble and a chat you are invited to enter the theatre – I stopped past the teacart for another goodie to take with me and was greeted by a stern telling off. Firstly, it was rude for me to help myself uninvited, and secondly that I had already had one biscuit and another would just be greedy. I managed to get away with the aforementioned Belgian Biscuit with a bit of sweet talk and embarrassingly loud “boys will be boys” and “he’s a growing lad” comments from the dear tea ladies. I suppose I brought it on myself.
On entering the theatre we were entertained by one very able bodied seaman (Simon Vincent) polishing his boots and writing love letters to his sweetheart. This was about the time when I noticed the words to God Save the Queen and moments later the audience was ordered curtly to stand in respect and sing. Let us just say that this was a little bit more than weird, especially considering that despite being a staunch republican I felt a surge of national pride, identity and loyalty to a country and a monarch I have never had any relation to prior. With this little bit of antiquated pomp and ceremony over it was time to begin the show.
The show was divided into three sections, each dedicated to the decade from which the music and vibe flowed. The show began in the fabulous forties with songs like the Andrews Sisters ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ and a distinct wartime theme. This progressed to the nifty fifties with new appliances and lashings of Peggy Lee. The show finished in the Swinging Sixties with Doris Day’s hit ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’ and one of the tea ladies reading from Eleanor Roosevelt’s Book of Etiquette.
Snapshots was a good combination of dance, song and improvisational comedy; each wonderfully ‘game on’ but each also working to heighten the audience’s experience of the other. Greg Ellis and Steve Wrigley, two improv veterans, provided the comedy with on-the-spot love odes to various audience members and an occasional helpful commentary on the dance and song. They were very much in the zone in this format as compared to a show of purely improvised comedy. Songs came from the extremely lovely Ila Scott who performed an amazing, embittered and powerful rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’, which took the song in a completely different but fitting direction. And the dance? The dance was wonderful. JAVA performers Rosanne Christie, Yasmine Ganley, Sacha Copland and Simon Vincent were full of the pluck that characterized the age. They were obviously having fun throughout the performance and it was infectious.
The show was extraordinarily snappy – taking just under an hour, the pace of things was amazing and really worked to the shows credit, making it accessible to those who don’t have the attention span to watch hours and hours of back to back dance. The finale was a roaring rendition of Joey Dee and the Starlight’s ‘Peppermint Twist’ throughout which the audience were dragged up on stage to strut their stuff. I won’t go any further for fear of personal embarrassment other than saying that I really need to take some dance lessons.
Presented by JAVA Dance Company and The Improvisers
Bats 12 – 16 September
“I know a little dance and it goes like this. The name of the dance is the peppermint twist”