DanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

Tin Man – Stanley and Aubrey Burton Theatre, Leeds

Reviewer: Ron Simpson

Choreographer: Joss Arnott

Composer: Anna Appleby

As Joss Arnott Dance finishes its tour, Leeds audiences don’t seem to have taken the 7+ advisory age limit for Tin Man too seriously – there were many younger than that. No matter: they seemed happily engrossed in the action.

It is, of course, a whimsical sideshow to The Wizard of Oz. The Witch has control of the oilcan, the Tin Man rusts and stiffens at her wish. His absence of a heart is cleverly brought out and the Witch sets him the task of finding it if he is to gain more precious oil.

Charley Mitchell as the Witch starts off proceedings, high-kicking, preening, but perhaps rather too self-satisfied to be as malevolent as one would wish. When Dominic Coffey appears as the Tin Man, he mimes his stiffness skilfully and builds the Scarecrow out of odds and ends, but it’s only when Yue Ying Ho’s Lion comes capering on just over halfway through that the show really catches fire. Acrobatic, twisting and turning, slipping and slithering, the Lion is the perfect complement to Coffey’s stiff-jointed Tin Man.

As it happens, Anna Appleby’s music gains a jaunty, jolly appeal at this stage and it’s great fun from here to the end – and beyond the end as the cast pull out all the tricks for the curtain call. As for the music generally, it initially emphasises the dramatic or comical effects of the action and is performed by an excellent trio from the group Psappha: a horn grunting and growling, cello reflecting the moves of the cast, and a hefty range of percussion.

Joss Arnott’s choreography is imaginative, though until the later stages too much concentrated on solo pieces. Eleanor Bull’s costumes are radiantly extravagant and her set simplicity itself, a large space in front of a picket fence, the instrumental trio behind it. Josh Tomalin’s lighting has its dramatic moments, usually synchronised with some of the more explosive music, and the whole thing is neatly integrated.

Runs until 5th June 2022.

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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