Into the Water

Into the Water promises to be a family-friendly show full of dancing and imagination. However, though the lighting and set were visually beautiful and despite the intricacy and obvious skill in the dancing, Into the Water is not a children’s show. It will leave children bored, and adults a bit confused.

If the show was to be re-categorised in dance then I could not fault how visually stunning it was.

We enter into a world of imagination and nostalgia. The stage initially draws you in and makes your imagination start churning; observe the old TV, tatty umbrella, boxes of objects, and the pièce de résistance, a beautiful clothes line adorned with lightbulbs that, when lit, looks like some sort of beautiful, post-apocalyptic art. Then we notice the two figures with giant teddy-bear heads lying centre-stage: yes, weird and a bit creepy.

The performance follows these two characters, as they explore a strange island they’ve been seemingly stranded on. We don’t know why, or who they are (there is little to no dialogue in the show) but we watch their friendship be strengthened through dance and exploring the various objects around them. Upon waking up, the duo (Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding) begin dancing, individually before joining together in simultaneous dance. Their footwork and energy is impressive and the rest of their dancing consists of a variety of techniques such as hand clapping, step dancing and tap dancing. However, the lack of dialogue and clear direction of the story makes it hard to understand (especially for younger ones) what the whole point of this show is, and gives the dancing little to no meaning.

The show portrays the different elements of a friendship; Cleary and Harding appear to fall out at times, reassure each other when they’re sad, look after each other when it gets cold and work together to create shelter when it rains. Watching the two characters struggle with each other and then coming together in dance is lovely to watch, but sometimes it was unclear what was going on and more direction and discussion was needed to get this point across.

The different elements of Into the Water are individually fantastic – the dancing was skilful, the set and visual effects were serious digital art, and the music itself was spacey and cool. The problem encountered is that all of these things together are overwhelming, cluttered and more importantly, they do not accommodate for their key audience, children. Unfortunately, most children in the audience were clearly finding the music too loud, the lack of talking and a clear story a bit boring and I watched many a child need to be contained by their parents as they fidgeted in boredom.

If the show was to be re-categorised in dance then I could not fault how visually stunning it was, but as a children’s show, Into the Water, I fear, will not entertain very many children. 

Reviews by Sarah Virgo

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The Blurb

A fantasy dance adventure from your favourite folk dance misfits, Up & Over It. A foot-stomping, hand-tapping show set in a magical wasteland, where anything is possible and friendship is everything. Up & Over It have travelled the world with their modern take on traditional folk dance. They’re back at the Fringe for two weeks only, with a new, fun-filled show for the whole family. Commissioned and produced by Chapter Theatre's (Cardiff) creative producer programme, Coreo Cymru, in partnership with Theatr Iolo and supported by the Arts Council of Wales Lottery Fund.