Matador (Her Majesty’s Theatre) – theatre review

A fusion of dance, burlesque and circus, Matador sizzles and bedazzles. The show is characterised by pulsating, ear-pleasing beats, brilliantly choreographed, fast paced routines, superb athletic and acrobatic prowess, a phenomenal array of sensual costuming and outstanding, colourful lighting design. Written, directed and produced by Bass G Fam, Bass used his own life experiences as inspiration for his creative endeavours in the 100-minute production (excluding a 20-minute interval).

Thematically, Matador is about the bonds that bind, about love, acceptance and friendship. With that comes an exploration of darkness and intensity – jealousy and rage, unrequited love and infidelity – as well as light. Passion is a constant. The production is unashamedly erotic and swings in two directions – straight and gay.

Photos by Ben Vella

The slick and sassy vignettes are accompanied by popular tunes, not all in English. Among those featured are I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston, Into You from Ariana Grande, Justice League’s Everybody Knows and many others. There are Spanish covers of Shallow (the mega hit for Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper), Dua Lipa’s Physical and Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. In addition, Michael Lira has composed original material just for Matador, including a stirring violin number near the end of the performance.

The vibe on opening night was electric as we were encouraged to clap, cheer and make noise … to express our appreciation for what was on offer. Suffice to say, we did so with reckless abandon. The 14 performers are supremely polished as they hook up, break up and dance up a storm. Gee, they’re good! Skill, strength and stamina are enduring bedfellows.

The Matador (Pip Keltie) and the Bull (Christopher Politis) are the centre of attention. They attract and repel. Defeat is on the cards, as is redemption. The combinations and permutations of the talent appears endless – from solo numbers to couples and the full retinue, Bass mixes it up to keep things fresh and vibrant. After a video introduction, there’s no let up from start to finish.

It appears that with each new act there is a costume change – striking, skimpy, cheeky, glittering, elegant and flowing. You name it and this show has it. And that is not to overlook those long, long “look at me” black boots with stiletto heels that simply yell out “wow!”

In summary then, Matador is exhilarating. It thrills. It makes you feel alive and puts you in a great mood. What more can you ask of a crackling piece of fiery entertainment? It is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 2nd May, 2021 as part of the Midsumma Festival.

Alex First

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