Even Dein Perry, the Aussie originator of this plot-free, ultra-physical show admits that there’s only so much you can do with two arms and two legs – and that from the man who choreographed part of the opening of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But what he does he does extremely well and with a few tweaks and additions, Tap Dogs has been touring the world for fifteen years since it originally appeared in the West End in 1995. Sensibly keeping the running time short, he’s choreographed a sweaty, testosterone-filled 80 minutes of tap routines.
Inspired by the steelworkers whom he once worked with, his hoofers are a far cry from the top hat and tails glitz usually seen on screen. These well-muscled guys sport jeans, t-shirts and heavy work boots and strip to the waist as the temperature rises.
A couple of blonde female musicians provide the (too?) loud percussive score as the six performers bounce off tilted girders and scaffolding, constructing the set as they go. They tap suspended upside down in one routine, skilfully incorporate synchronised basketballs in another, then send sparks flying with blowtorches and douse the front rows of the audience (protective plastic provided) as they slosh around in water. On press night, building site Foreman Adam Garcia (his hand already heavily strapped after a rehearsal injury) briefly missed his footing but it just added to the energy emanating from the stage in a fast-paced, power-house of a show which, within its limitations, goes down a storm.