Taj Express (Peacock Theatre) JohnnyFox October 7, 2018 Musicals, Reviews, Theatre One of the reasons I decided to leave the London Gay Men’s Chorus was that we were obliged to learn complex choreography to Jai Ho, the thumping Oscar-winning Bollywood anthem A R Rahman wrote to underscore the climax of Slumdog Millionaire. Apart from the fact that the cultural appropriation felt uncomfortable – a hundred or so mostly white, mostly middle-aged gay men ‘screwing in lightbulbs’ and ‘washing the windows’ while channeling their inner Madhur Jaffrey – I just couldn’t get my head round dancing like a maniac while singing four part harmony in Hindi and trying to keep remotely in tune. But it’s a great song and so I was quite looking forward to seeing it done properly in Taj Express, part of Sadlers’ Wells popular season at the Peacock Theatre – to be followed by Tap Dogs and The Snowman – 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 tired and commercial formula devised by the Merchant family which has been toured around America and Europe for so long it’s running on auto-pilot. I’m quite surprised anyone at Sadlers Wells should think it deserved attachment to their brand, because it shares very little with their Carlos Acosta/Matthew Bourne/Michael Clark heritage of imaginative concepts and technically brilliant 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. The 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 and green of the Indian flag in a kind of Ganges Riverdance which was quite interesting. Mostly, though, it’s like going to a Brick Lane curry house with your mates, ordering six differently-named dishes and because you don’t know your Madras from your Pulao finding they all come out as the same mystery meat sauced in various bright shades of red and yellow.