Spring Loaded is The Place's platform for not-yet-established choreographers and companies, and has been a stepping stone in the way to success for artists such as Matthew Bourne and Russell Maliphant. Smith Dancetheatre appear as part of this year's programme with Agnes and Walter: A Little Love Story, their debut production. It is loosely based on the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber, in which Mitty's dead-end lifestyle is punctuated by a series of fantastical daydreams, of which he is the daring protagonist.

Agnes and Walter begins winsomely. Dan Canham as Walter and Sarah Lewis as his wife Agnes mime out their fantasies together – an alteration to the original story, where Agnes berates Walter for his wayward thinking. They act with great comic timing and entertaining physicality. In such a narrative piece many choreographers would have resorted to a use of text, but Neil Paris admirably does not. He trusts in his movement to tell his story, and it does, for the most part – though perhaps a little incoherently later on.

The story is one of love and the secret excitement found behind ordinary disguises. Rather than the longing for escape inherent in the source material, Agnes and Walter tells of how a relationship remains strong and happy as the couple allow and enable each other to dream. It is an unconventional love story, at times passionless and mundane; the couple seem distanced and disinterested except when lost in their imaginings.

Paris uses two couples to portray the story's characters; one younger, the other older. The introduction of the new cast members part-way into the proceedings is an injection of energy – of which Ronnie Beecham, spritely at 68 years old, has buckets to spare, bouncing excitedly about the stage despite his senior age. It is the younger couple who are the seasoned performers, this piece marking the professional debut of Beecham and dance partner Elizabeth Taylor.

Smith Dance Theatre combine a range of movement styles, making use of physical theatre, mime and some fine examples of dad-dancing to tell its story. The movement is accompanied by an array of artists from Górecki to Springsteen, and Margaret Pikes provides an oddly-placed but welcome selection of songs including a touching rendition of an unfortunately uncredited French classic.

Agnes and Walter: A Little Love Story was a refreshingly innocent look at life, love and relationships through time. It engaged the audience gently without resorting to aggressive or dramatic tactics. At first it was light and charming, although it became a little dreary towards the end and lost the pace of its opening.

Agnes and Walter: A Little Love Story, at The Place TheatreKit Brown reviews Agnes and Walter: A Little Love Story, part of The Place's Spring Loaded series, in London.3