‘¡Vamos Cuba!’ is on at Peacock Theatre in Autumn 2017. This review is from its 2016 premiere at Sadler's Wells.
‘¡Vamos Cuba!’ is feel-good summer dance fare, designed to indulge all our favourite Cuban stereotypes, while showcasing a whole range of the nation’s dance, from salsa and mambo to Afrocuban folkloric and reggaeton. It works thanks to the sheer force of its exuberance, despite being in many respects completely barmy.
Director and choreographer Nilda Guerra sets her show in a sexed-up Havana airport where passengers for Miami find their flight has been delayed and pass the time flirting, fighting, drinking and, of course, dancing. Except at one point the departure lounge is transformed into a 1950s Havana cabaret, with the girls in little more than judiciously placed sequins and gigantic headdresses, the boys in waders-and-wellies get-ups, shaking maracas. Then this turns into a pounding reggaeton session, with a storming performance from the singer Geidy Chapman. The second half of the show starts with a comedy plane crash skit – revealing, possibly, something of the dark side of Caribbean humour – and segues into a commemoration of the Cuban Revolution, with the customs official weeping over images of Fidel and Che. Like I said, barmy. But also totally lovable.
The dancers flit easily between styles, shimmy through a startling number of costume changes and bring an easy humour to the whole enterprise. When they have big set dance pieces – a salsa with brandished fans, a mambo with flourished scarves, a folkloric dance to celebrate the orishas – their technical skills shine. The live musical accompaniment – and the singers, Chapman and Maikel Ante – gives an added boost to the show. You may wander into the night wondering what just happened – but you’ll do so with a smile on your face.
BY: SIOBHAN MURPHY