Theatre Review: Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at Edinburgh Playhouse

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games celebrates 20 years of the original production. Pic: Brian Doherty.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games celebrates 20 years of the original production. Pic: Brian Doherty.

I had been looking forward to seeing Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games ever since I saw the original show on DVD 20 years ago and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.

While there have been some changes made to the format including new costumes, background staging, music and lighting effects, it still has the original plot at the heart of the story - the fight between good and evil with true love prevailing in the end.

Following the success of its phenomenal world tour, the Irish dance extravaganza arrived in Edinburgh for its first show last night (Friday) as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations and it is in the capital at the Playhouse until tomorrow night (Sunday).

I can’t praise the performance highly enough. The story is told through a mix of singing, interpretative dance, instrumental duets (which were fantastic) and of course slick and perfectly synchronised Irish dancing. The precision of the footwork and choreography was spectacular and the audience certainly appreciated all the hard work that has gone into this show with applause after every routine.

The show begins with a touching projection of Michael Flatley with his young son before we are led into the dream of a Little Spirit and the story begins.

It is the tale of the Lord of the Dance (superbly performed by James Keegan) who represents the good and is drawn into a ‘fight’ with the Dark Lord and his disciples.

Lord of the Dance is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse until tomorrow (Sunday, March 26). Pic: Brian Doherty.

Lord of the Dance is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse until tomorrow (Sunday, March 26). Pic: Brian Doherty.

It is interspersed with a love story where the Lord is in love with Saoirse but has to fight off temptation by Morrighan the Seductress.

The scenes which were the most exceptional had to be the ‘fight’ sequences between the Dark Lord and his disciples and the Lord and most notably, the Lord of the Dance number performed at the end of the first half and again at the finale. It certainly gives you goosebumps when all the dancers are performing together in unison to that particular song it was phenomenal to watch.

The costumes are all in keeping with a futuristic theme, presumably to update the show 20 years on, but if I had any criticism at all it would have to be the robotic costumes. It must have been difficult for the dancers to perform in such heavy attire and I just wasn’t sure if that was really in keeping with the rest of the show.

However I thought the 40-strong cast led by the impressive James Keegan were fantastic. It had to be a daunting task to take on the role of the Lord following in Flatley’s exceptional footsteps and before I saw the show I wasn’t sure if the lead role would live up to the high expectations set by the show’s creator. But I have to say I thought Keegan was excellent - the speed of his footwork was incredible along with his high kicks and he certainly had a commanding presence on stage. The two female leads were also a joy to watch - both beautiful dancers, light on their feet and very graceful. The two fiddle players also have to be highlighted - they were fantastic and such a pleasure to listen to. They have to be commended for dancing in heels too which was a feat in itself! The female vocalist in this production was amazing too - she has such a beautiful voice and her performance of ‘Dangerous Games’ was outstanding.

This is such a high value production with bright and colourful backdrops and the best projection comes in the second half of the show when fans are in for a real treat - without saying too much so not to spoil the surprise, it was certainly a moment worth waiting for.

If you love Irish dancing and are a fan of the original show, I would recommend going to see Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games as the dancing was mesmerising and overall, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre.