Fabric and water are solo performer Suzel Barbaroux’s dance partners in Chiffonnade. Michéle Dhallu’s choreography contorts Barbaroux’s body into a snail and an ice skater as the human form, raw materials and imagination are used to create an unusual children’s show that has delightful textural aspects but lacks cohesion or plot.
Barbaroux’s house is a fabric ball, bending and bouncing as she manipulates it masterfully. It magically gains the powers of Mary Poppins’ handbag as more textiles emerge and Barbaroux explores it, pulling, twisting and dancing with it. She tests the weight of the materials as she throws them around the stage, reacting to each piece of fabric as if they were living and breathing. She shows how imagination can turn the simplest scrap of fabric into a multitude of objects and ideas.
This is a show of two entirely separate halves as the world Barbaroux forms comes to life and the stage begins to leak. She glides around the newly wet stage gracefully, splashing the front row of the audience. It feels slightly inappropriate to have a children’s show performed in a bikini and almost uncomfortable at times as the lack of any sort of plot turns the play into a spectator sport.
This is a tale of exploration and discovery, rather than a story with logical narrative. Chiffonnade is a fun, gentle experiment of what different textures can be used to create, but lacks the humour or excitement to keep children fully engaged, even for its short running time.