We are in a dance rehearsal space with ballet barres, floor to ceiling mirrors and a set of lockers. When first we meet the dance troupe, they are in competition mode. Their performance comes with a bedazzled nautical theme. It is upbeat, precise and excellent. Until something goes awry.

The introduction promises much and we are instantly intrigued by the razzle-dazzle affair of dance competitions. Tight choreography, snappy music and a stark slap of dark humour pave the way for a great show and there are plenty of early laughs. However, somewhere between the opening, and getting to know the troupe, the shine starts to fade.

Yvette Lee, Chika Ikogwe and Mitchell Butel. Photograph © Chris Herzfeld

American playwright Clare Barron has won multiple awards for Dance Nation, and it was a 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Drama finalist. Directed ably by Imara Savage, there is plenty to appreciate about this bold production. Jonathon Oxlade (designer) and Alexander Berlage (lighting designer) bring a fascinating and aesthetically simple feel to the proceedings; the set perfectly enhances the drama, of which, there is plenty.

Set in America, the cast stay admirably true to accent, but much of...