Review: We Should Definitely Have More Dancing is moving, uplifting and optimistic

You cannot help but think – how would I react if this was me? 

The last two years have taught us that we needed to value our lives more and live in the moment. 

Some people have continued walking, carrying on their daily exercise from when it was limited. Now it is unlimited. 

Others see more family and friends than they have ever done before and, for some people, it has meant that they only attend events and get togethers that they really want to go to. They have learned to say no instead of yes to everything.

But how many of us have drifted back to how we were before, even if it made us unhappy and unsettled? Long hours working, bingeing Netflix shows that we are not even that keen on, and cutting ourselves off from the things we love.

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

Clara Darcy and Ian Kershaw explore the idea that our lives are fleeting and that we simply do not know what is around the corner. 

Clara is an actor who is living through an experience that is life-changing beyond recognition; she woke up one morning to find out that she had a tumour in her head, the size of a fist.

Doctors stand over her and explain what could go wrong and list these as if they are items which are out of stock at Morrisons. 

To them, this is a job, and that’s a good thing because they are damn good at it. To Clara, this means that thoughts race through her mind, like they would for many of us. And her life becomes a series of ‘What Ifs.’

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

Clara Darcy plays herself, and she is joined by friends Shamia Chalabi (who you may remember from the wonderful Habibti Driver at the Bolton Octagon) and Suzanna Hamilton (1984 and Out Of Africa), and they also play Clara and a variety of other characters, including her mother and father.

The writing is clever, as you explore the feelings and thoughts of Clara Darcy almost like diary entries. Many of the details feel surreal, as when you are going through treatment such as this, everything feels as if it is being done to you; poked, prodded, stood over, wheeled from pillar to post and receiving visitors who say one thing but think another.

Ian Kershaw adds something beautiful and poetic to proceedings, working the same magic that he applied to The Greatest Play in the History of the World. His words bounce around the stage and this enables this play to sing. 

Darcy’s words sit in your mind, as you cannot help but think – how would I react if this was me? 

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

I loved the scenes which explored feelings and thoughts conjured up by the power of music and how you may want to stop listening to certain songs, as they take you somewhere you do not want to go. We all have our own soundtrack, and this really resonated with me. 

Clara Darcy, Shamia Chalabi and Suzanna Hamilton are all excellent, as they work like a team of athletes and the chemistry between them is really heart-warming at crucial moments throughout the play. 

The use of props is inventive and clever, and never did I think a Build a Bear would reduce me to tears.  

The cast put almost everything on the table but the play’s short run time means that some things are left unsaid.

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

Tatty Hennessy and Raz Shaw’s beautiful production is moving, uplifting and incredibly optimistic, as it does make you question your own mortality and embrace the good things in your life and do more of them. 

It is just over 75 minutes long, and during the current heatwave, you might think that is a good thing. But when Clara is asked “How do you feel?” it is almost time to close the play and it feels as if it is just lifting the lid on some emotions which have emerged following all of the procedural moments. 

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

There are some great observations and discussions about the overused and inappropriate use of the word ‘battle’ in relation to serious and life threatening illness. 

And you find yourself completely immersed at this stage because you are beginning to see inside Clara’s mind. 

I wanted more of this, as for me this is the most interesting aspect of the play. Some days you might feel angry, some sad, and others you might laugh at absolutely anything and see beauty where you least expected to find it.

We Should Definitely Have More Dancing is at Oldham Coliseum Theatre until 2nd July and tickets can be booked here.


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