This piece gives each character more or less equal weighting and the cast also works well together as an ensemble although there are moments when there is a lack of chemistry between the characters. Two striking performances come from Helen Jeckell’s snooty but deeply lonely Vera and Catherine Millsom’s brassy Sylvia whose partner is a benefits thief. Alexander Giles gives us a credible Geoffrey who copes admirably with a group of boisterous women. Rest of the cast delivers a polished performance although Barbara King’s character, Mavis the teacher, is at times a tad cold for someone shepherding this group through the dance routine.
One of the great things about this play is its versatility and it is a shame that this production is set in the 1980s rather than 2011 although there are a couple of contemporary references. These characters were created over 25 years ago but they are still well and alive in our society today; not to mention the relevancy of this play to our political and economical backdrop. Some of the scene changes in Act I seem a little disjointed but Act II flows more naturally. There is a nice foreword by Richard Harris in the programme where he explains how he got his idea for Stepping Out. His words should be suitable encouragement for budding playwrights.
On the whole, this delightfully charming production is one to escape to from the gloomy news and events that pervade our lives. I didn’t want it to end but I shall be looking for my nearest tap dancing school.