The First Dance, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

three stars

Did Harry and Meghan have a ‘first dance’ choreographer when they took to the floor as a newly married couple, merrily in step to Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance with Somebody – who can (and maybe will) tell? However on-stage at Oran Mor, bossy-boots/ control freak Rhoda (Jo Freer) isn’t leaving anything to chance when she finally permits fiancé Terry (Daniel Cahill) to take her into his arms – physical contact being only now allowed after the wedding vows have been officially signed, sealed and delivered in church.

Gavin (Darren Brownlie) wouldn’t have been Rhoda’s first choice to put her or Terry through their paces: Gavin is obviously gay and you sense Rhoda already has her suspicions about Terry’s true inclinations. But she reckons, as usual, that she can simply bulldoze her way to getting what she wants – and, to Gavin’s horror, she wants the first dance to be the distinctly challenging I Had the Time of My Life duet from Dirty Dancing.

That, more or less, is the context for Martin McCormick’s comedy about mismatched partners and wrong-footed attitudes to marriage, sexuality and religious faith. If the writing has a tendency to act up in a cartoon-caricature way – Rhoda’s strait-jacketed faith and offensive homophobic rants making her a bundle of cliches rather than a person – there is nonetheless a serious, affecting side to this scenario that director Kenny Miller manages to free up before we’re all swept away by THAT dance. Gavin’s camp exterior is hiding the grief of his partner’s recent death, a yearning ache that Brownlie expresses with silent phone-calls to (what you know) is his dead partner’s voice-mail. So, does Terry chuck Rhoda? get his old gay self back? What do you think? As for that Dirty Dancing duet – you’ll have the time of your life watching it hitting the heights, complete with soaring lifts.