How entertaining? ★★★★☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
22 May 2012
This a theatre review of CANTINA.
A circus-vaudeville hybrid in the heart of London, in the shadow of the London Eye; a daring choice of amusement, on the amusement-packed South Bank. Will it stand out from the plethora of options during Summer 2012? A resounding affirmative to that question. Pure showmanship, which grips like a boa constrictor for 75 or so minutes. A demo of the strength, flexibility, rhythm, stamina and grace of the human body. Embracing old school acrobatics, the setting is very 1920s – from the capacious tent, to the musical accompaniment (with the odd remix thrown in), we move from exhilarating set-piece to exhilarating set-piece. Jaw-dropping acrobatics dominate, with the occasional dance/musical interlude.
Kicking off the evening, we are warned, in an affected cut glass antiquated English accent, that the show is dangerous. Too righty! Not for us, but the ensemble look to be continually on the verge of being maimed/killed if not precisely in tune with surroundings. At times awe-inspiring. We get tight-rope walking in high heels, contortionism of the highest calibre, risqué magic, insane dance routines, etc. etc.
Circuses and acrobatics appear to be very much in vogue over the last few years on the big and small screen: CARNIVALE, MAN ON A WIRE, HEROES (season four) and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS to name a few. Why the resurgence? Could be numerous reasons. In the avalanche of talent shows in which singing is the predominant force, perhaps a chance to actually see people almost super-human, relatively, sans trickery, is desired? Or, mass entertainment of the blockbuster variety is predicated upon visual effects, an illusory technique; to see something wow-inducing and real satisfies a missing aspect of showbiz maybe? Whatever the reason, CANTINA adds to the Big Smoke.
Inventive, witty and joyous, check it out.