So you thought you knew all about juggling? And apples? Or even teapots? Think again. Better still, take yourself to Jubilee Gardens, just along the river from the Southbank Centre, for a performance guaranteed to amaze, amuse and delight you; not to mention give you a whole new perspective on apples.
SMASHED. Gandini Juggling . Nine performers. 80 apples. Four tea sets. All starts sedately enough, with the nine filing onto the stage each juggling three apples to the strains of the 1940s popular song I Always Wanted to Waltz in Berlin, in a transparent homage to the late German choreographer Pina Bausch. Only the mischievous and slightly manic smile on the face of the stunningly elegant black-clad Kati Ylo-Hokkala gives any indication that things may be about to become a little more dangerous.
That and the almost rakish aura of performer/director Sean Gandini, all fitted grey suit, slicked back hair, pencil moustache... You instinctively know nothing this man does is going to be sedate for long.
The performance evolves into ever more complicated juggling. More apples. Two or more performers juggling together with such precision and well choreographed movement that at times it's impossible to tell whose hand threw that apple, and whose picked it up again. The skill is mind-boggling.
You laugh. You marvel. Your eyes grow big. Your inner child comes to the surface.
But not for long. Gandini seems keen to use his art to explore the kinks of human relationships.
Remember, apples are the forbidden fruit...
So, some sequences are disquieting. To the sound of Tammy Wynnette's Stand by Your Man, the troupe's two women slowly crawl on all fours before the seven seated men, who juggle apples on their backs. You shudder, just a little.
As the critic Lucy Ribchester put it, "as an indictment of human nature, it's vicious; as theatre, it's brilliant."
It doesn't remain dark for long, though. In fact, one of the many strengths of this show is the skilful way in which is combines (you could say "juggles") light and darkness, fun and thoughtfulness, movement and stillness.
The finale is a riotous affair, but no spoilers here. Go and see for yourself.
Gandini says,"our ambition was always to challenge perceptions about the nature of juggling, and we feel that is slowly happening."
We'd say, it really is!
|What||Smashed - Gandini Juggling, Udderbelly Festival|
Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
10 Apr 14 – 18 May 14, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Udderbelly festival|