Break the Floorboards (Tour - Oldham)
It's so impossible not to draw comparisons between Rifco Arts and Watford Palace Theatre's Break the Floorboards and Billy Elliot, that even writer Yasmeen Khan's script makes reference to "Bilil Elliot" and "Bolly Elliot" in this tale of a young British Asian boy forbidden to dance.
Despite his obvious talent, teenaged Zain's family and community do not think it fit for him to be a dancer, leaving him no option but to practice secretly in his bedroom until he literally breaks the floorboards. The programme explains that the title is a frequently used Punjabi phrase meaning ‘go for it' and despite poverty, cultural misunderstandings, exam stress and a violent fascist march, that's exactly what the show's characters do. Big brother opens a fried chicken shop that will be the end of the family's money troubles, mum overcomes her agoraphobia and, of course, Zain is allowed dance.
The show is polished and slick, its street dance sequences all flashing lights and club-loud music. The performances are consistently high energy as the cast flit through an army of stock characters, suggesting each change with a single, suggestive piece of costume and an accent change. These are caricatures; there is very little nuance, but that's not to say that there's no heart.
Though the script acknowledges a mountain of topical issues it fails to really address them or to offer any reflection. It feels like the show starts discussions for schools and youth groups to continue.
Though adult audiences might want a bit more meat on the bones, director Pravesh Khan has created a charming show with an infectious energy that can't fail to have everyone smiling and clapping along by its finale.