Strictly Dandia, King's Theatre, Edinburgh Festival

This thin offering is strictly amateur fare
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The Independent Culture

Savagely murdered by its own hype, Strictly Dandia is most certainly not what it's drummed up to be. If there were "high passions, bare flesh, sectarian tension and hormones running rampant" in Tamasha Theatre's latest dance-drama, based on the inter-caste boils erupting upon a religious Hindu dance festival, they passed me by.

And in case the word "erupts" suggests some sort of spontaneous action, or even surface interest, let's just say that the meagre storyline and skeletal production could have been better devised and scripted by a bunch of teenagers.

Dismally thin in content and disastrously naive in style Strictly Dandia must represent a nadir of the Edinburgh's official Festival theatre programme and would scarcely pass muster on the Fringe.

Suman Bhuchar's idea is great - a show set among the Gujerati community of Wembley against the backdrop of the Navratri festival, based on the pressures of competing in the Dandi Rass stick dance competition. But these nine celebratory nights of dancing, heralding the beginning of Diwali, are meant to be fun, lively and, dare I suggest it, dramatic. So how on earth could the normally inventive and imaginative Tamasha Theatre - think East is East and Balti Kings - have produced something so unsophisticated, under-rehearsed, unfocused and underwhelming?

The colourful rivalries and sexual jealousies supposedly contained in this traditional festival amount here to little more than clunky dialogue, a few moderately stirring dance routines and a storyline spun out of flim-flam.

When the radio mikes worked (a secret weapon reserved until the second half) it was possible to follow at least some of the not very original or funny lines. The minimalist production looked as if it had been conceived for touring, a poor relation dropping by in the final week of a tired Festival.

There's potential here and I only hope that a producer with some flair gets their hands on it before it's seen again in public.

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