Ice is nice - but the skate is great

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Torvill and Dean

Wembley Arena

There were cushions for rent at Wembley Arena on Tuesday for the London premiere of 's Ice Adventures, but everyone who felt the need had come with their own - plus a nice warm rug for their knees. No disrespect to the audience, but it would be a great place to shift a few Saga holiday brochures. The bulk of the capacity crowd seemed to be long- established fans and their eager applause certainly warmed things up.

Ice Adventures is a series of unconnected episodes set in a railway station, a tropical fish tank, a winter sports competition and a stylish New Year's Eve party. These changes of scene are contrived via a superb lighting design, by Durham Marenghi, which projects various motifs - luggage labels, national flags, parquet blocks - on to the Arena floor. (Marenghi's wildly cosmopolitan CV includes the Hong Kong handover ceremony.)

The main scenes are intercut with tedious bits of clowning from two Arctic hunters and a yeti-like object in fun fur. I don't suppose anyone ever lost money by underestimating the tastes of Ice Spectacular fans, but the constant force-feeding of comic interludes suggests that someone (presumably Mr Bean co-writer Robin Driscoll, who collaborated on Ice Adventures) has little faith in the audience's attention span.

This refusal to let the ice dance stand alone stems from a problem encountered by any sporting skater who retires to a life of ice shows: Olympic routines are exhausting. are seldom off the ice for long, but their need for breaks has spun this show out to a bum-numbing two-and- a-half hours.

Of the interminable frozen fillings, the most memorable were Richard Swenning, and the Canadian couple Christine and Dion Beleznay - who seem to specialise in the stunt work often frowned upon in amateur competition. Their party tricks include the "headbanger" - whereby the man swings his partner round by the ankles so that her nose shaves the ice - and a remarkable lift in which he raises her horizontal body over his head with one hand while spinning at top speed. Of all the guest stars, the Beleznays seemed to have the most chemistry between them.

's way of inhabiting the music and their total concentration on each other rather than the spotlight have always marked them as artists rather than acrobats. Here they occupy a feature spot in each section, but pace themselves carefully for the party finale. "Take Five" is danced with the painstaking insouciance that characterises their work. Dean, louche and raffish in a white dinner jacket, partners with apparent effortlessness. The routine seamlessly incorporates the fancy stuff that audiences so adore with more densely textured moments that colour the commonplace lyrics of the accompanying ballads with the bittersweet world-weariness you see in a shrug of Sinatra's shoulder. Pair skating can't be improvised: the trick is to make it look that way.

To Sun, Wembley Arena (0181-900 1234); 13-17 Jan Manchester Nyrex Arena (0161-930 8000); 20-24 Jan Newcastle Arena (0191-401 8000); 27-31 Jan Sheffield Arena (0114 256 5656)

Louise Levene

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