Review: The First Dance (PPP)

daniel mainIt’s the awkward pauses in Martin McCormick’s latest PPP beauty that make the play so appealing- absolutely charged. Choreographer Gavin (Darren Brownlie) is bereft, following the funeral of his partner Ben. He has to dial up the smiles, and the camp though, for bride-to-be Rhoda (Jo Freer) who wants to re-enact the famous Dirty Dancing routine for the first dance at her wedding and has enlisted the poor chap.

Trouble is, her fiancĂ© Terence is seemingly horribly homophobic, and, soon enough, it emerges that Rhoda is a control freak, and a religious bigot, pushing their relationship to the brink. Terence doesn’t want to make physical contact, let alone dance with, Gavin. But to paraphrase the celebrated chick flick, ‘nobody puts Gavin, with his sharp tailoring and even sharper tongue, in the corner’.

jo and daniel

All photos by Leslie Black

Brownlie, as ever, reacts hilariously, with choice zingers. But he’s aching inside, and these moments, when the emotions betray him, are heart-breaking. Freer gives good passive aggressive, like Julia Davies at her most vicious. But Cahill’s the unexpected star turn, going from someone you would cross the street to avoid, to someone you would willingly share a pint with.

Kenny Miller provides a gorgeous inversion of the classic fairytale- and by association rom com- tropes- with his naturalistic direction. And even if it takes some predictable steps towards the end, it’s no less sweet, hilarious or affecting for that. People are ridiculous and complex, and ‘Love’, as Mickey and Sylvia sang, ‘is strange’.

(Lorna Irvine)

At Oran Mor, Glasgow until May 26th




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