Squish

For thirty five minutes, dancer Tony Mills does not leave the confines of his squash court, drawn in red lines on the floor. His solo dance theatre piece – consisting of monologue and movement – explores the pressure to be successful, and, as we might expect, the disappointment and disillusionment that comes with striving to have it all.

He begins by changing out of his sports clothes to the sound of motivational speeches. From his briefcase he pulls an alarm clock, a line of cut-out people, an apple and a heart shaped boiled sweet. These are the parts of his life he is looking after, juggling. The track gets stuck on the word ‘winning’ as Mills begins to dance.

Squash is often associated with businessmen and professionals; the squash court symbolises the quest for success and the competitive instinct which is supposed to make us win at life. Mills dances with grace, charting a frantic attempt to play the game of winners as he bashes his head against a wall and chases an ever-elusive spotlight. “Oh come on!” he cries out as he fails, repeatedly, to remain in the light: when he does finally manage it he curls up on the floor, defeated by his own triumph.

His sequences are peppered with visual puns, in a not-always successful attempt at comedy. The point that Mills is making is fairly predictable, and does not develop much further than the primary observations, but he carries it off with refreshingly innovative movement, athletic grace and a vibrant energy.

Right til the end, Mills keeps smacking his head against a wall until, exhausted, he finally reopens his briefcase; the apple is rotten, the alarm clock rings incessantly, and the people are no longer holding hands. He has lost the game. A life in hot pursuit of success is not sustainable, we are told, in what turns out a thoughtful and energetic piece of dance theatre.

Reviews by Charlotte Goodman

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Performances

The Blurb

Room 2 Manoeuvre’s Tony Mills, ‘dances with a gorgeous, athletic alacrity and dices brilliantly with precision footwork’ **** (Herald), in a new dance theatre solo exploring what drives us toward our goals, and the costs of this journey.

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