Razzle Dazzle

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Review by Jane Freebury

Catering to backstage mums with big aspirations would have to be one of the hardest jobs around, even worse than being a portaloo cleaner, but Mr Jonathon, is still a pretty decent guy. He’s courteous, earnest, utterly committed and I only saw him really lose his temper once in this sharply observed and amusing mockumentary about the world of dance competition.

And like it or not, I think we have a special flair for mockumentary. Think back to The Magician, and to last year’s Kenny.

As the eve of the Sanosafe Dance Spectacular drew close he was poring over his desk, looking for ideas for a showstopper to win him and his Jazzketeers a first place, once and for all. It was hard to think of anything with kaboom when you’ve already created a dance routine on capitalist industrial oppression, the Kyoto Protocol, dolphins getting caught in nets and skin cancer. He and his costume queen Marianne (Tara Morice, from Strictly Ballroom) had to get 5,000 melanomas sewn on the costumes for that one.

Marianne is McCartney to his Lennon, he says, in a rare moment of hubris. Most of the time he’s a paragon of patience with pushy mums to deal with like Kerry Armstrong’s Justine whose 10-year-old daughter Tenille is a member of his dance troupe.

Mr Jonathon comes up with all the best routines but he keeps losing out at the competitions to Miss Elizabeth who only ever serves up old standard routines like ‘Big Spender’. And she admits to being totally non-PC and doesn’t mind telling any aspirant that they’re ‘fat, lazy and untalented’.

British actor Ben Miller is a treat as Mr J – are there any other actors with doctorate in physics? – and veteran local actors Toni Lamond, Barry Crocker, Noeline Brown have cameos. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear they were all seduced by the sly yet affectionate humour in the script.

Paul Mercurio plays himself in another brief scene, and the dozens of young dancers give exuberant performances, but the queen bee is Kerry Armstrong.

All those years ago in 1992, when a little-known director called Baz Luhrmann made a movie about suburban dance competitions, who would have picked it for a lasting favourite? Strictly Ballroom captured a mood and perhaps Razzle Dazzle could too.

If you need some razzle dazzle, you need look no further.

4 stars