Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cantina, by Strut & Fret Production House, March 16, 2011

Cantina ***1/2
by Strut and Fret Production House
Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre, March 16 to 27, 2011
Reviewed by: Kate Herbert on March 16, 2011

The stage is a dangerous place in Cantina. This circus-cabaret blurs the line between passion and violence with extraordinary and skilful acts that often verge on the sado-masochistic with their combination of seduction and aggression.

Five physical performers (Chelsea McGuffin, Mozes, David Carberry, Daniel Catlow, Henna Kaikula OK) collide in what could be a late night, 1920s, honky-tonk bar with a musician playing ukulele and pianola. Dance blends with acrobatics; there is a seductive but brutal apache dance duet and a couple of tough and ferocious dance-fights between two men.

A woman tightrope walks in high heels, stands on a man with stilettos and then balances on bottles atop the pianola. A contortionist with terrifyingly elastic bones and pivoting joints, totters about like a rag doll, twists herself into a pretzel and performs handstands balancing on tiny sticks.

A crazy, naked magician pulls a little, red scarf from unlikely places and then later spins by his neck from a rope. Throughout the show, the audience gasps audibly at remarkable and cruel routines, but the final handstand routine on broken glass is possibly the most alarming.

This is not a show for the faint-hearted. It is fierce, unpredictable and treacherous – and incidentally sexy and funny too.

Stars: ***1/2

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