THEATRE

A CHORUS LINE
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The Independent Culture
If you've only ever seen the film (above), you ain't seen A Chorus Line. When Michael Bennett, the show's creator, choreographer and director wisely declined to translate Broadway's longest runner into a film, Richard Attenborough stepped in and failed in dismal fashion. It wasn't entirely his fault. Film could only dilute the show's immediacy. In its original form, A Chorus Line was perfect.

The show is breathtakingly simple. Played straight through without an interval, it takes place on a bare, mirrored stage where an ever-decreasing group of dancers audition for a show. Through solo numbers, ensembles and scenes, the dancers tell their stories to an unseen director who barks instructions at them. Most musicals require a massive suspension of disbelief, whereby the audience agrees to the convention that it is perfectly natural for characters to burst into song and dance. Bennett's masterstroke was to create a situation where it really is appropriate to do so. On top of that, he made the audience complicit in the decision-making process. We desperately want to know which dancers will get the jobs.

The show never casts stars: it is a real ensemble piece about unknowns trying to make it, all of which makes it perfect for the London Transport Players, the amateur group whose La Cage aux Folles was such a tremendous hit. A Chorus Line ran just short of 15 years on Broadway. This time, you have just one week to catch it.

`A Chorus Line', 14-18 March, Lyric Hammersmith W6 (081-741 2311)

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