DIRTY Dancing was of course a 1987 film which sought to confirm George Bernard Shaw’s theory that dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire – legalised by music.  

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey double-handedly convinced the teenage watching world they simply had to head to their nearest dance centre and throw all their pocket money into orgasm-inducing salsa lessons.

The storyline isn’t hard to forget (largely because there is so little of it). It all begins with the Houseman family arriving at a sleepy, dull Catskills resort at the height of the holiday season.

Daughter Baby, already bored, reckons that this summer with her parents will be something of an induced coma. 
But just before she turns to Tolstoy to pass the time, Baby realises the resort’s dance instructor is hotter than the kitchen toaster at breakfast time. Johnny then enlists Baby as his new partner. And then we see them share a series of moves, culminating in a horizontal tango. 

So, what of the transfer to theatre? Over the years the show has seen several productions, all keen to capture the film’s essence: that there is nothing more erotic than a tight vest and a leotard moving perfectly in time. 
This latest version isn’t really a traditional musical; the main characters don’t burst into song. Instead, there’s a band which performs onstage alongside them. How dirty does the dancing really get? Face-in-the-mud mucky – or just a light grass stain on the knees?

The problem with attempting to recreate a facsimile of a film onstage is that, inevitably, film has the benefit of close-ups; we get to see the dripping sweat and heaving chests. 

But where theatre has the advantage is that it looks at the original concept 36 years on and has a little fun. Sexual freedom for example has moved on in that period.

Young women in particular no longer need the same permission to get in touch with their bodies and suggest sexual desire.

However, this production clearly knows where the anachronistic, rather cheesy moments lay, and plays into them. And the laughs follow as a result. 

Yet, this Dirty Dancing doesn’t ignore the need to re-recreate the sexually charged atmosphere, which is key to audience connection. And the songs, such as Hungry Eyes and the iconic (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, don’t half help in achieving that goal. 

Will you have had the time of your life by the time Johnny tosses Baby into the air and turns her around like an spin-dryer? Well, maybe not exactly. 

But you’ll have fun, see some great dancing and enjoy the power of theatre to suggest that while two people may be up there dancing, their minds are enjoying a very different experience. 

And the stars of the show, Michael O’Reilly and Kira Malou, won’t be the only people in the room needing to cool down. 

Dirty Dancing, The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, October 24-28. 

Mud sticks 
HOW can two women separated by 42 years and vastly different life experiences come to share an incredible commonality, which has seen both of them make a profound mark on the world?  The story is told in Through the Mud, which delves into the civil rights history in the United States. We learn that one woman is a notorious Black Panther. The other is a present-day university student who happens to be enrolling as the Ferguson riots begin. 

Both women challenge the American justice system. Both become criminalised through political activism, and ultimately are faced with the same choice: stay and fight, or flee? Previously performed as a one-person show under the title Woke, written by Apphia Campbell and Meredith Yarbrough, this is a larger scale reimagining of the play which won a Fringe First Award set against a powerful soundtrack of original music and traditional gospel and blues sung live.

Through The Mud, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, November 2-4. 

Don’t miss
In recent years we have debated why we construct statues. Are they deserved? Should they remain in place for all time?  Renowned visual theatre maker Al Seed presents his latest striking work, Plinth, which examines the role and re-appraisal of statues. 

“At the heart of Plinth is an exploration of statues as artefacts of war, particularly with reference to the archetypal image of the “hero.” Within the performance, Seed reimagines the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur – perhaps the ultimate story of “hero” versus “other”.’

Plinth is the latest in a series of performances Al Seed has created around the theme of conflict and the politics of its remembrance, the last of these being Oog, which won the Total Theatre Award for Best Visual/Physical Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

This world premiere, co-produced with Vanishing Point, is said to be “full of rich imagery and astonishing movement”.

Plinth, which opens at Dundee Rep, October 24-25, tours Scotland and runs at the Tramway, Glasgow on November 11.