Spies Like Us have been ones to watch at the Edinburgh Fringe for three years now; there’s always a large queue at the Pleasance to see their shows, whether it’s Our Man in Havana (their stunning debut), Woyzeck, or this year’s offering, Murder On The Dancefloor. They’ve even been voted New Diorama Emerging Company 2019-20. Audiences come for the inventive choreography, slick production and scarily young cast. Murder on the Dancefloor is their first original and contemporary play, following the previous two successful adaptations.
Writer and director Ollie Norton-Smith has thrown the cast into the post-university world of career woes and city living. In a difficult housing market, siblings Jonno (Hamish Lloyd Barnes) and Sabrina (a fiery Phoebe Campbell) are living at home. Sabrina, freshly out of university, is treading water in a series of dead-end jobs. Next-door neighbour Bonnie (Francesca Thompson) is a journalist who can’t catch a break, whilst old friend Louis (Alex Holley) is crashing on the sofa, for reasons that will become clear later, whilst couple Pete (Lloyd Barnes again) and Paul (Tullio Campanale) are getting their own place.
Tensions between the friends are exacerbated by their work and home lives: a pressing need to do better and be better, with varying moral codes to guide them. However, Sabrina and Jonno’s dad (also Campanale) isn’t very sympathetic – the kind of person who writes off Millennials as snowflakes who spend all their money on avocados and lattes.
As tensions reach boiling point, the action speeds up and the deft physical theatre increases to a high-tempo soundtrack, with the cast using tape measures more and more to shape the space and sometimes bind characters. However, with some actors juggling two roles, it gets harder to follow. Heather Baskerville’s costumes are a gorgeous colour palette of mustard, yellow, burgundy and orange, but adding one distinct piece to a new character – such as a hat or glasses – would help differentiate them.
Though Murder on the Dancefloor isn’t as strong as their previous efforts, it’s still highly watchable, and Spies Like Us remain ones to watch. Whether their next production is contemporary or not, they’ll continue to push boundaries and bring something refreshingly different to the Pleasance.
Written and Directed by: Ollie Norton-Smith
Producer: Nikita Karia/ Spies Like Us
Box Office: 020 7609 1800
Booking Link: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/murder-dancefloor
Booking Until: 26 August 2019