‘Fit to be Tied’ is a Glorious Pillow Fight (review)

CHICAGO — An apparent technical snafu left his audience sitting in the lobby nearly half an hour before entering Links Hall’s white space for Fit to be Tied, the full length version of Josh Anderson’s hilarious Levels of Acetylcholine (premiered last summer as part of CMC’s D49 festival). As soon as I started to care that we were kept waiting, I notice a big tub of homemade cookies in the lobby and learned that Links’ light board had completely imploded. Forgiveable, and, although I’m not entirely sure those cookies were intended for Anderson’s audience, they were frickn’ delicious, and totally curbed any hanger we may have been experiencing.

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As it turned out, Fit to be Tied was worth the wait – the half hour in the lobby, and the 6+ months the work spent in development since D49. It didn’t matter that the lights weren’t what they were supposed to be; the DIY feel of extension cords run around the room to get any light on the dancers at all only added to the hodgepodge of vignettes featuring Anderson and sidekick Brian Rad with a trio of women: two Kaseys (Alfonso and Foster) and Allison Law.

Fit to be Tied reads like an episode of Saturday Night Live (I mean, when it’s good. That was a compliment). Unlike a lot of “modern dance shows,” Anderson’s composition shows little patience. He cuts right to the chase, and stops as soon as we get to the punchline. The result is laugh-out-loud physical comedy, and the four dancers hold their own delivering lines, while actor/all-around goofy guy Brian Rad desperately tries to keep up as a dancer. Rad’s awkward dancing works and is completely appropriate most of the time, except, perhaps for the big, dancey group phrase near the end when he is folded into the ensemble.

Most of the best bits of the original Levels of Aceytlcholine are perfectly intact (though a hilarious “phone call” from the Welcome to Xfinity section has been diluted out), and the trio of women enhance the work, rather than distract it, which was a pleasant surprise. Eventually, the buffet of gloriously passive-aggressive vignettes dissolve into a full on dance party in sleep-over jammies, and a violent pillow fight that could possibly be compared to the big izakaya fight scene in Kill Bill, but feathers.

Though it’s clear Josh Anderson has a knack for comedic timing, there is something deeper about his characters that bubbles just below the surface. It’s hard to say whether or not Fit to be Tied could have benefitted from a little salt and vinegar – from a serious moment of transparency in an otherwise ridiculous evening. Perhaps… perhaps not.

Lauren Warnecke

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance writer and editor, focused on dance and cultural criticism in Chicago and across the Midwest. Lauren is the dance critic for the Chicago Tribune, editor of See Chicago Dance, and founder/editor of Art Intercepts, with bylines in Chicago Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Media publications, among others. Holding degrees in dance and kinesiology, Lauren is an instructor of dance and exercise science at Loyola University Chicago.