Theatre Review: Second Hand Dance's Getting Dressed

Words: Ali Emm
Saturday 18 February 2017
reading time: min, words

Half-term dressing-up with a splash of dance for a fine old time that makes you want to shake up your morning routine


I’m going to hazard a guess that most of us get dressed every day. There might be the odd one where it's just not going to happen and you happily just chuck a coat over your PJs to pop to the shop for some milk. But on the whole, it’s part of the daily routine and usually happens without much incident.

Except maybe when you’re trying on clothes in a shop and the removal of a top is proving tricky. You find yourself with your elbow wedged against one ear and the other arm sticking out at a right angle and you realise that your lack of skills as a contortionist may be your undoing. Or the dance you do to pull the zip at the back of your clothing up the final 2cm, where grabbing at it and jumping while wiggling your hips really seems like the only logical way to nail the problem.

Then think about your kids in the morning. You turn around to grab a jumper out of a drawer only to hear a loud thump as they land flat on their backside because they’ve not quite mastered pulling on a sock and keeping their balance. Or the joyous giggles you elicit when you bounce them into a pair of tights or trousers.

The latest production from Second Hand Theatre, Getting Dressed, has taken the everyday, functional activity that we take for granted and turned it into forty minutes of joyous movement, exploration and daftness. The play starts with the simple but effective trick of a black backdrop which the three actors pop their feet, hands and heads through, but it looks like a mismatched puzzle with feet of different sizes that are also too far away from the hands. The kids' attentions were grabbed immediately.

After a few variations on this, the black curtain dropped and the way was made for a simple white stage with a backlit, opaque wardrobe at the back, and a handful of clothes hanging from the ceiling. The performers then gleefully jumped on, rolled onto, and grabbed from brightly coloured piles of clothes throughout the show. The wardrobe doubled up as a platform to fling clothes and hats from and for a bit of shadow play.

Keeping it moving and mixing it up enough to keep everyone's eyes on them, at one point one of them ended up wearing about twenty or thirty things, doubling his size and wobbling around. They somersaulted, jumped and launched each other into clothes, and were having a right old time of it. My normally somewhat reserved five-year old was cackling away throughout the piece.

At the end, clothes were flung into the audience and everyone was encouraged to pop on something as the actors came up into the seating to talk to the kids. In an altogether fun-filled and attention-holding piece, this was the only weak point – I think the kids would have gone wild if allowed to join them on stage for a bit of a dress up instead (and no fear of tumbles down the auditorium seating while tipping into an oversized t shirt!). Although, from their website details, this might be dependent on the venue.

Overall, a sweet and fun way to spend an hour that might encourage you to be a bit dafter of a morning and an evening.

Getting Dressed was at Nottingham Lakeside Arts on Tuesday 14 February 2017. 

Second Hand Dance's website

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