Theatre review: Strictly Confidential, Edinburgh

Lisa Riley stars in Craig Revel Horwood's Strictly Confidential. Picture: Contributed
Lisa Riley stars in Craig Revel Horwood's Strictly Confidential. Picture: Contributed
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LISA Riley wants to have her cake and eat it.

Festival Theatre **

Early in the evening, we find the star discussing her initial reluctance to appear on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, asserting that she didn’t want to be made into a rotund figure of fun. Fast forward about ten minutes and she seems to have changed her mind completely, sensuously gyrating and caressing her curves as the audience succumbs to fits of laughter.

Riley’s clearly comfortable with her physique and can move almost as well as the statuesque professionals with whom she co-stars.

It’s too bad, however, that Strictly Confidential has contrived to present fans of the programme with supposedly intimate access to the lives of key cast members when yet more dancing would have sufficed.

Given the franchise’s reputation for camp spectacle, Riley’s scripted thoughts on body image and tribute to her late mother seem a trifle unnecessary. As does an audience Q&A session in which it’s revealed that her favourite dress is purple and that she recently lost control of her bladder while on stage in Manchester.

Riley aside, the show aims to tell the stories of coaches Artem Chigvintsev, Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, yet only scratches at the surface of their careers.

In fact, the most we learn about Lowe and Chigvintsev is that they hail from Australia and Russia respectively.

Waite, on the other hand, is a slightly more complex character, a gay man who once lived in Holland.

At the end of the night, all three announce their plans to return to our screens and it becomes apparent that they’ve confused the purpose of a nationwide tour with that of a press release.

Strictly Confidential may be held together by a particularly flimsy thread, but there’s no denying the effectiveness of its many set pieces.

Chigvintsev brilliantly showcases his talents to the theme from From Russia With Love, while the house band’s deft handling of You Don’t Bring Me Flowers is surprisingly moving. There’s clearly a lot of potential in a thematically coherent Strictly spin-off, but this new offering from Craig Revel Horwood is unlikely to appeal to all but the diehards.