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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

WE SHOULD DEFINITELY HAVE MORE DANCING is a moving, and ultimately life celebrating experience

Review by Steve Cooke

An interval-less, 75-minute play about the journey of a young woman dealing with a malignant tumour ‘the size of a fist’ in her head is no misery-fest but a moving, at times hilarious and ultimately life celebrating experience that none in the audience will ever forget.

Clara Darcy co-wrote and stars in We Should Definitely have more dancing at the Oldham Coliseum bringing the Wow factor back to this wonderful theatre.

The play opens with a recording of a conversation between Clara and her co-writer Ian Kershaw with a minimalist set and props such as a table and wheelchair with a number of child-themed bits and pieces and watched through the open front of a box-like set formed by drab hospital-style curtains creating a perfect setting for the focus to be on three superb performances.

Actors Shamia Chalabi and Suzanna Hamilton play versions of Clara, her parents, the team who saved her life at Salford Royal Hospital and The Christie as well as the boyfriend-to-be, Tom.

Clara Darcy is a 30-something, trumpet-playing actress who has appeared in shows at the Coliseum - including in Brassed Off ‘three times’. In 2019 in rehearsal see sees a doctor about her blinding headaches and quickly discovers that she has a malignant tumour growing at the top of her spinal cord and impinging on her brain. Within a week she endures 14 hours of complicated, highly dangerous cutting-edge surgery.

Although Clara’s very presence demonstrates the successful outcome as she fills the stage with a life affirming vibrancy, we are also fully aware that there is a 50/50 chance of the tumour returning.

She is now with Tom, the man she met while having proton-beam therapy, so she's as happy as she can be with life.

The production is directed by Tatty Hennessy and another cancer survivor, Raz Shaw, and is well made for easy touring, including as the Coliseum's first Edinburgh Fringe show in August.

At the end the audience are on their feet applauding both the production and Clara herself.

As Clara says: “Although this is a show with a really serious subject matter that makes you confront quite dark, deep and difficult things about life and possibly even your own existence, more importantly it is a celebration of the brilliant nuances of being alive and actually what a gift it is to have a dance with death that brings you to that realisation.”

At the Coliseum until July 2 (Then Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July 12-13; Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, September 25-28; Edinburgh Fringe, August 3-18. Other dates to be confirmed).

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