Review of Sponge by Turned On Its Head at Battersea Arts Centre

Spongeshow - credit Kati Fichtelmann
Sponge show – credit Kati Fichtelmann

Sponge by the East Midlands dance company Turned on its Head is currently playing at the Battersea Arts Centre. It’s an imaginative and playful dance show perfectly devised for young children. Led by two dancers Shane Shambu and Louise Gibbons, Sponge is a highly visual show with no dialogue and an upbeat 1970s dance soundtrack. The show’s creators recommend Sponge for babies and young children from 4 months to 4 years old.

The show is 50 minutes of interpretative dance about sponges. Yes, really. Hundreds of sponges gradually fill the stage over the course of the show. Pink, blue, yellow and green sponges emerge from buckets on the stage. The dancers squeeze them, throw them, hide them, kick them. The dancers also don elaborate costumes made of sponge and lit up with fairy lights.

There’s lots of audience participation in the show. Near the beginning my daughter was scooped up by one of the dancers, put into one of the buckets and spun around the stage like she was on a waltzer. She enjoyed it immensely. As did the children who ended up with a bucketful of sponges poured over their heads. Shambu and Gibbons are highly responsive to their young audience. At the end the entire audience is invited onto the stage to play with the sponges.

Signalling that the show is over, the children are then asked to help tidy up. It’s silly but it’s joyful and the babies and toddlers loved it. It’s an experiential show and narrative light but if you’re under 4, it’s a perfect hour of fun.

4 stars

Review by Laura-Jane Foley

This Christmas, roll, squeeze and pop yourself through the squishiest, squashiest show imaginable. Made for babies, young children and their grown-ups, Sponge is a soft, bouncy adventure set to a 1970s soundtrack.

Two friendly dancers are here to guide you through springy environments, fascinating in shape, texture and touch. You also get to meet the leggy character Splegs, who needs a bit of help walking.

Age Policy: This show has been made for babies and young children aged 4 months – 4 years and their grown ups. Please note that everyone attending, including babes in arms, will need a ticket.

28 Nov – 30 Dec 2017
Turned On Its Head
10:30am, 1pm & 3pm

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