Naked Goddess Productions
Dancing Lessons by Mark St. Germain

Dates and Venue October 4 – 20, 2019, Wed - Sat at 8 pm; matinées - Sat and Sun at 2 pm | Jericho Arts Centre

Director Sarah Rodgers Choreography Melissa Sciarretta Set Design Ariel Slack Lighting Design Taylor Janzen

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Dancing Lessons, written by playwright, Mark St James, is the type of story that catches interest. The story line draws people in, playing on sympathies that portray the positive side of human nature. We want the challenged to succeed. Whether it be a university professor of geophysics who suffers from Asperger Syndrome or a dancer who has suffered a debilitating injury and can no longer fulfil her life’s meaning. We root for the underdog because it heartens the spirit to see people succeed against such hurdles.

Dancing Lessons held the promise of an uplifting theatrical experience. Unfortunately, there was no spark between the two characters who held the stage for 80 minutes without an intermission. They went through the dialogue as if reading a script. Sandra Medeiros, who produced the production plays Senga Quinn, the injured dancer. Andrew Coghlan, the Co-producer, plays Ever Montgomery, the professor who needs dancing lessons for a formal awards dinner where he will be honoured for his work. Throughout the course of the play it becomes apparent that the dancer is suffering from injury far deeper than her physical impairment. Her real injury is buried within and is the true crippler of her body and her spirit. In contrast, Ever, has learned to deal with his affliction, teaching himself to understand the emotions that “normal” people exhibit.

This is the stuff of good theatre. It requires a sense of intimacy that slowly, believable grows between two virtual strangers. The one, crippled by Asperger’s asking for dancing lessons from the other, a total stranger, crippled by injury.

The simplicity of the staging by Ariel Slack and of the costumes by Ella Heatley-Mulhall worked very well, giving a sense of believability to the story line. The videography by Trevor Meyer added unspoken visual layers to the life of the dancer.

© 2019 Nancie Ottem