This is a funny and sometimes touching show about a young Punjabi in Britain who wants to follow his dream of becoming a dancer, in the face of enormous pressure from his mother to look for a safer, more ‘respectable’ career.

The star of the show is Daniel Uppal in the role of Zain. Unlike Zain, Daniel has had no objections from his family about his chosen career, and at the age of seventeen he became the UK’s under-eighteen Freestyle Dance Champion.

So here we have a kind of Asian Billy Elliot story, though Zain is older than Billy, told in a fairly simplistic sequence of scenes, in which we see Zain sneaking off to the youth club, where he can secretly practise his dancing, and where he meets a girl called Sophie, played by Carrie Baxter.

“You think you’re getting me away from my oppressive culture” he tells her sarcastically. Like the rest of the cast, Baxter changes character several times. The title, Break the Floorboards, is an English rendering of the Punjabi phrase “chak de phatte”, and means “Go for it !” Zain certainly does tha,t and we see right at the glitzy opening sequence that Uppal is a terrific dancer.


The dance style is described at the fusion of Bollywood and street dance, but apart from that opening it’s more Watford than Bollywood, lacking the colourful glamour that we expect from a Bollywood musical. ( Watford Palace Theatre commissioned this production ). But that’s no criticism – the dance numbers in the mundane surrounding of Zain’s home, and in the youth club, are exciting and also full of humour, with a lot of Bollywood-style gestures amid the athletic street dance routines.

In between there are serious scenes in which we see Zain stealing a mobile from his friend, arrested, wrongly, for dealing drugs, and hilariously taken to a boxing club. Some of these dramatised sections drag a little here and there, but the dancing and general zaniness of this show make it a success.