Tidy Up review at Canada Water Culture Centre, London – ‘charm and invention’
Charming children’s dance-theatre show Tidy Up takes aim at anal retentive orderliness with brightly-coloured balloons, confetti and cushions.
But it doesn’t simply revel in mess – the soiled stage, strewn with rainbow-hued pomspoms, becomes a space in which the young audience participate with the performers in systematically sorting and sifting, eventually returning it all to a colour-coded, spick and span state.
Dance is an interesting means of illustrating the paradigm of alignment, disarray and the marriage of both. The trio of dancers – clad in bright banana yellow – demonstrate how the freedom of self-expression emerges from technique and discipline in joyful vignettes.
A pair get stuck in a big blue fleece – in the ensuing double act, feet come through the cuffs and fingers are splayed through the funnel neck to much mirth before the confusion of limbs and fuzz is resolved. Later, a male dancer glides and pirouettes through a mishmash of debris with green sponges on his feet, combining practical cleaning methods with the formal felicities of classical dance. There are imaginative and lively uses of fans and vacuums as well as a precariously-stacked pile of pillows reminiscent of a Jenga tower.
Yet, as a child-free adult, it’s hard not to see the unaddressed climactic mess as a metaphor for the excesses of feckless capitalism, its ruinous effects on the planet and its inhabitants. What sort of world will be inherited by the infant audience of today? There’s an unsettling poignancy in these pink and green pompoms. (But that’s probably just me.)