Derriere On A G-String is an innovative offering from Alfred Taylor-Gaunt. He has a clear mission; to make dance more accessible to audiences. He aims to change opinion that dance is pretentious, alienating or incomprehensible, and attract new faces to the genre. In doing so he has created a hybrid of dance and theatre; a comedy sketch show if you will, set to music and performed in dance.
Whenever anyone makes claims of this kind, it can produce a shiver in the spine of those with an inclination towards purity and beauty in an art form. The phrase ‘commercially viable’ even crops up in the programme, albeit as a description of what dance usually isn’t. The implication being that Taylor-Gaunt wants to make dance popular – more, god forbid, mainstream. His honesty has to be commended even if the echoes of dance purists and theatre snobs throwing up, can be heard reverberating around an empty auditorium somewhere just out of sight.
Despite the portents this initial confession unleashed, the show must be judged on its own merits and as a theatrical spectacle it is undoubtedly an excellent affair. This fast paced conveyor belt of comedy skits played out to familiar classical masterpieces, identifies the humour in the everyday and finds the absurd in the most mundane of situations. First and foremost, it is funny, but it is also playful and inventive. Its forays into the surreal keep it from going stale or wandering too much into the obvious. The angular set is used to brilliant effect, with unexpected openings, props passed through windows and people crawling out of boxes. The gloriously irreverent spirit even invoked at times the essence of old comedy duo Morecambe and Wise (think their famous breakfast sketch) – whether deliberate or a happy coincidence we do not know.
It is easy to see why this would appeal to a theatre (in the more specific sense) going crowd. Theatre encompasses many art forms, its fluidity is what makes it exciting and people expect to be surprised. This is theatrical at its core, with solid acting performances and comedic turns from all of the cast. At times the humour doesn’t always hit the mark and occasionally there is a reliance on vulgarity which seems unnecessary – it’s possible to be erotic and cheeky without being crude. The idea is wonderful, the execution good but one feels it could be even better with a few tweaks. Even its failings however, are a testament to the risks Taylor-Gaunt is taking, there is a sense he has ‘put himself out there’ and this is much more exciting than watching a polished but ultimately unoriginal production.
Maybe appealing to the masses is not always a bad thing – Morecambe and Wise were extremely popular after all and very few would accuse them of not being good.