House of Flamenka at Peacock Theatre
It’s fair to say that the reviews for House of Flamenka have been mixed. A national newspaper declared it had all the subtlety of a lap dance (as though that were a bad thing) and awarded a solitary scathing star. Others were more enamoured. Certainly, if subtlety is your bag then it’s probably best to look elsewhere for entertainment; this show manifests a poltergeist Liberace in High Holborn high camp. The stage is bedecked in the most rococo of sets: curtains swag, furniture flounces, neon sizzles. Jasmine Swan’s costumes are turned up to 11: there are bejewelled epaulettes, brocade hot pants and toreador-inspired outfits mixed with bondage-style harnesses. At one point some of the dancers wear Robin Hood hats with French maid outfits in a fuchsia that could probably be seen from space, complete with tiny dustpans and brushes, as they fuss after their mistress. One prances past, pushing a hostess trolley of glittering patisserie. Performers arrive on-stage in headdresses that are ridiculous – which is meant as a compliment. There’s an enormous mohican. and there are goat horns, unicorn horns and horns that look like black sequinned lobster claws. That’s a lot of horn. The headgear appears, and is then never seen again, It’s just that sort of show.
There is little discernible plot, aside from a wafty premise of a goddess of music and dance collecting artists to amuse her. She is played by Karen Ruimy, who co-created the production with Arlene Phillips (one of the founding judges of Strictly and a dance legend), who directs. The choreography is by James Cousins and Francisco Hidalgo, the former concentrating on the more contemporary style of the English dancers, the latter on the flamenco technique of their Spanish counterparts. Elements of cabaret and flamenco are mixed to a deafening soundtrack of hispanic pop. Ruimy seems to exist in a perpetual state of arrival, constantly floating in to be admired in different outfits. She is a diminutive figure, draped in liquid gold sequins and chic rust-coloured tulle. Her dancing is, let’s say, stately: there is little power or sensuality, but she has a certain presence. She also sings, which adds another element.
The dancers are great, performing choreography that works best in formation, like a black-and-gold flock pirouetting in unison. It’s a fun experience. Though it makes little sense and at times feels like a bejewelled migraine, there is something infectiously joyous about House of Flamenka’s maximalism and lack of seriousness. By the end, the audience are on their feet dancing and clapping along, and they leave with big smiles. There’s really no better endorsement than that – the ability to create joy should never be underestimated. It’s valuable.
Photo: Pamela Raith
House of Flamenka is at Peacock Theatre from 27th September until 8th October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: