Dancing on the Edge

Series 1 - Episode 1

Radio Times
Review by:
Alison Graham

It’s six years since writer/director Stephen Poliakoff’s last major television dramas, the twin pieces Joe’s Palace and Capturing Mary. Dancing on the Edge is a five-parter that’s as opaque, elliptical and as infuriating as you would expect from such a singular, even quixotic, talent.

Frequently throughout this first, 90-minute opening episode you might, as I did, groan with frustration as Poliakoff dangles characters in front of us, people whose motives appear to be unfathomable. What are they doing? Is there a story here? Yet, there’s something in Dancing on the Edge, about a black jazz band in 1930s London, that holds you, whether you want to be held or not. Curse you, Poliakoff!

Chiwetel Ejiofor is quietly commanding as band leader Louis Lester, who succumbs to the enthusiasm of pushy music journalist Stanley Mitchell (Matthew Goode). He’s convinced the band has a big future and carefully pulls it into the orbit of a bunch of rich, influential wastrels and their paterfamilias, the mysterious Donaldson (Anthony Head). Part two is tomorrow.

About this programme

1/5. Drama by Stephen Poliakoff following the fortunes of a black jazz band in early-1930s London. Music journalist Stanley Mitchell decides to take a gamble and signs Louis Lester and his group, booking them to play at the Imperial Hotel in front of a mainly elderly audience who have never seen black musicians before, and many of whom depart in outrage. However, they do intrigue and impress a group of socialites and are invited to play at a private party - where Prince George flirts with singers Jessie and Carla - and catch the attention of wealthy businessman Mr Masterson. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode and John Goodman.

Cast and crew

Cast

Louis Lester
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Stanley Mitchell
Matthew Goode
Masterson
John Goodman
Jessie
Angel Coulby
Julian Luscombe
Tom Hughes
Sarah
Janet Montgomery
Carla
Wunmi Mosaku
Pamela Luscombe
Joanna Vanderham
Wesley
Ariyon Bakare
Rosie
Jenna-Louise Coleman
Mr Wax
Allan Corduner
Deirdre
Caroline Quentin
Schlesinger
Mel Smith
Donaldson
Anthony Head
Mick
Jamie Crew
Harry Thornton
Miles Richardson
Policeman
Daniel Coonan
Ryall
Richard Cunningham
Prince George
John Hopkins
Hannah
Katherine Press
Mrs Mitchell
Maggie McCarthy
Sarah's father
Rob Edwards
Prince of Wales
Sam Troughton

Crew

Director
Stephen Poliakoff
Producer
Nicky Kentish Barnes
Producer
Faye Ward
Writer
Stephen Poliakoff
Categories
Drama