Tap Dogs, Novello Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

A spotlight picks out Adam Garcia on the industrial set of Tap Dogs, dressed in jeans and heavy work boots.

He stamps out a tap riff, and another. The steps aren't that interesting, but Garcia ends with a big, applause-getting "ta-dah!" gesture. It works, but it's more about the package than the dancing.

Tap Dogs was created by its original leading man, Dein Perry, in 1995. It's a post-Stomp dance show, with dancers in pointedly everyday clothes, thumping rhythms out of the metal platforms and girders of Nigel Triffitt's set. But Tap Dogs can't match the genuinely complex rhythms of Stomp. Instead, its cast make a point of being regular Australian blokes: the taps on those work boots are supposed to be a surprise.

Fifteen years on, Tap Dogs is still an efficient show. It moves briskly from routine to routine, bringing in props from flashlights steelworking tools that send out flurries of sparks. The six male dancers play stock character types: Garcia (a regular judge on Sky1's Got to Dance) as the foreman, Richie Miller as the idealistic kid. Two women thump out percussion from a raised platform at the back of the stage.

Some routines are stronger. In the basketball dance, the balls thump alongside the stamping feet, rhythms getting more interesting as they time the bounces, throws and catches. When the men stamp through trays of water, they wink to the front row – who have been provided with plastic macs, and need them.

In an encore, the dancers step carefully along and between girders, jumping up and across the raised platforms. On press night, Garcia slipped on this one – and acknowledged it by dipping a sweetly rueful curtsy to the crowd, before jumping back into action. It's a reminder that these performers can be more spontaneous, and more fun, than the Tap Dogs framework has much room for.

To 5 September (0844 482 5170)

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