Theatre Review: Taj Express, Worse Than The Best Marigold

Taj Express, Peacock Theatre ★★☆☆☆

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Theatre Review: Taj Express, Worse Than The Best Marigold Taj Express, Peacock Theatre 2

Part of Sadler's Wells popular season at the Peacock Theatre — to be followed by Tap Dogs and The Snowman — Taj Express promises the Slumdog Millionaire music of A R Rahman with original and inventive choreography and heart-pumping music.

There's a message at the top of the show that people expecting good acting, credible plots or decent jokes should leave now because 'this is a Bollywood extravaganza', and also 'an Indian show, so there are no refunds'. Perhaps they should also have pointed out there's no orchestra, the scenery is projected, instruments are mimed and most singing is pre-recorded.

It's a stale commercial formula which has been toured around America and Europe for so long it's running on auto-pilot. Surprising Sadler's Wells should think it deserved attachment to their brand, because it shares very little with their Carlos Acosta/Matthew Bourne heritage of imaginative concepts and technically precise dance.

The cast are certainly energetic, but from the sweatless waxed chests to the shaped eyebrows, it all has a rather plastic feel and there's less discipline in the dance numbers than you should expect from a good choreographer. Routines are desperately repetitive, the only amusement is in seeing what colour costumes the cast will come out in next — there was one replicating the orange white and green of the Indian flag which was quite interesting.

Mostly, though, it's like going to a Brick Lane curry house with your mates and ordering six differently-named dishes and because you don't know your Madras from your Pulao, before finding they all come out as the same mystery meat sauced in various bright shades of red and yellow.

Taj Express, Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, WC2. £15-£45, [Monday-Saturday] Until 20 October

Last Updated 14 October 2018