IT’S a genre in itself, the 1980s movie-turned-musical about dance as a symbol of freedom and self-realisation; and Flashdance is perhaps the most powerful of them all, a story that pumps out the usual follow-your-dreams ideology of an individualistic age, but also shows a strong, self-aware scepticism about whether personal dreams are always the answer, when you live in a rustbelt city devastated by economic change.
Flashdance, Playhouse, Edinburgh, ****
The heroine – played with real passion at the Playhouse this week by Verity Jones – is Alex Owens, a working-class Pittsburgh girl who works as a welder by day and a burlesque-bar dancer by night, but dreams of one day becoming a fully trained “proper” dancer. Her story is complicated by her burgeoning romance with the boss’s son, Nick, tasked with sacking many of Alex’s co-workers; and in songs like Nick’s Justice In The World, the show glimpses a political complexity that is less present in more familiar big numbers like Maniac and What A Feeling.
So there’s plenty to enjoy from all kinds of angles in the latest touring version of Flashdance. The script and lyrics are as sharp and witty as ever, Matt Cole’s choreography is smart, sexy and full of explosive energy, the central performances – particularly from the women in the cast – are gorgeous, heartfelt and hard to fault; and even on a bleak January evening, the 16-strong cast give the story of Alex and her world everything they’ve got, in two hours of vivid, passionate entertainment that will leave you tapping your feet and singing the tunes, as you head out into the chilly night.
Final performances today; also at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 4-9 June.