TAJ EXPRESS | London, Peacock Theatre

If you can get past the intense kitsch — and after two hours, you have no other option — this shameless parade of Bollywood pastiche offers knockout choreography and pure entertainment, leaving young and old dancing out of the theatre.

If you like your dancers in various states of undress, wielding gigantic golden drums and a wink in their eye, you’ve come to the right place. Aesthetically, the show works best in the contemporary “street” numbers, where the relentless tacky sparkle is removed, to reveal some genuinely explosive and engaging ensemble dance. However most of the show is taken up with mock-opulent odes to Hindu ceremonial worship, and a spinning 2D projection of a clip-art Ganesh can only get you so far, compared with the real-life spectacle of a Bollywood movie.

There is a story behind the sequins: adorable naïf Shankar has just landed his first, big Bollywood composing job, for a lavish romance entitled Taj Express. Will he get the music written in time, even with the increasingly ridiculous last-minute script re-writes? Three world class musicians (percussion, guitar and Indian flute) provide the most exciting scenes as music is seemingly created before our eyes; it’s a shame they are so underused in favour of a pre-recorded mixtape.

The second half is just a series of finales, with at least two full-length curtain calls. And yet the palpable energy and skill from everybody on stage, plus more than a little panto-esque audience participation, means that even the loftiest of aesthetes will be unable to leave the theatre without a smile. It’s not high art, but it sure is entertaining.

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