Review: Duality’s impressive Modern Dance production is ‘both funny and poignant’

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography

Madeleine Burton reviews Duality Theatre Company’s production of Modern Dance for Beginners at the Abbey Theatre Studio in St Albans.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography

Dirty dancing takes on a whole new meaning in Duality Theatre Company's Modern Dance for Beginners, currently being performed in the Abbey Theatre Studio.

For while there is no actual dancing in it, there are plenty of sexual gyrations in an impressive two-hander that is both funny and poignant.

The two actors play eight roles in six scenes, never leaving the stage even when changing their clothes.

Consequently they spend a lot of time in their underwear - but it is all in the best possible taste!

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography


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If that is a challenge for Lillie Prowse and Matt Hughes-Short, they make light work of it and both turn in excellent performances.

It would be next to impossible to give a synopsis of the play by Sarah Phelps but all that it is really necessary to know is that the characters the couple play are linked in some way or another, both closely and distantly.

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So we find Lillie taking on a range of roles from a bridesmaid to a betrayed wife while Matt uses his talents to portray a bridegroom and a handyman among others.

Duality, a new local theatre company, clearly sets out to play Modern Dance for Beginners for laughs and it certainly succeeds - some lines and the way they are imparted are hilarious.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography

Far and away the funniest scene finds Lillie as a spoiled betrayed wife and Matt as the handyman whom she wants to knock down a wall as well as provide her with other favours.

But there is darkness amongst the hilarity and while the play focuses a lot on sex and its meaning, or lack of, the characters are revealed as vulnerable and frequently hurting.

Modern Dance for Beginners was written nearly 20 years ago but it feels bang up to date and is very much a play for the current times.

In Lillie and Matt - whom Company of Ten audiences may remember in the very successful production of Butterflies are Free last year - Duality could not have found two better performers to take on such demanding roles.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography

Directed with a light and comedic touch by Sarah Ferdinands, it runs until Saturday, May 25.

Performances are at 8pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

? Tickets can be obtained from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography.

Duality Theatre Company's production of Modern Dance for Beginners. Picture: DTC Photography. - Credit: DTC Photography

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