Reviewed by Flossie Waite
Tamsyn Russell Dance (Scotland)
Reviewed at North Edinburgh Arts Centre as part of Imaginate Festival
At Imaginate until 4th June
For ages 6+
Watching the brilliant Go Get ’em Kid made me want to call my sister. Though the show is apparently about friendship, to me it seemed more about family. At the back of the stage is a huge t-shirt printed with a large sepia photograph of two young girls dressed in identical cowgirl outfits, one slightly taller than the other: a classic family portrait of two sisters. The picture seems to mirror the relationship of the two performers – on the stage itself are two female dancers dressed in identical outfits, one slightly taller than the other, both with long brown hair. They could easily be related.
The dozens of t-shirts (100 in fact!) covering the floor add to the idea of a domestic scene. They are a handy prop picked out of the washing basket or pinched from a wardrobe, which the two girls happily throw about, piling them up like laundry they can’t wait to leap on, or curling up to sleep under their sleeves.
The dancers (Tamsyn Russell and Adrienne O’Leary) capture an older/ younger sibling dynamic reminiscent of mine and my sister’s relationship in the early Noughties: they copy each other in an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better manner, they are competitive, battling it out to see who can put on the most t-shirts in the fastest time, and the seemingly ‘older’ sister tells the other what to do, making her change her hair or forcibly switching her shorts so they both match. At the same time, they help each other, holding down the other’s t-shirt when they change, and are happy just being silly together, putting t-shirts over their heads and moving about like monsters. All of this suggests a familial closeness and level of comfort which allows for, and at times encourages, an invasion of each other’s personal space.
The eclectic music selections, including an Arabic version of Dolly Parton’s 9-5, make for an aurally striking soundtrack. Tamsyn Russell’s accessible choreography includes simple, repetitive routines that you might make up in your bedroom and then proudly perform to your parents. The less complicated moves subtly shift to become more challenging, as though we are watching what the dances really look like, and then seeing what the girls think they look like in their minds. Some of the motivation for their actions is impenetrable, but again it feels like the two have their own movement language and are engaging in secret sibling games that we can watch and relate to, but would struggle to actually join in with.
The production’s climax sees the two performers sharing, and dancing within, the same t-shirt. It’s a visual representation of the close sisterly relationship we’ve been watching, and a natural conclusion to what they’ve been doing all along – not much changes in terms of their movement or relation to each other. Go Get ’em Kid literally elevates the everyday relationships its young audiences experience to an entertaining art form.
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