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Cuisine and Confessions: Eat it up

by | Jan 26, 2017 | Review | 0 comments

Cuisine and Confessions was at the Playhouse.

Cuisine and Confessions makes the mundane transcendent.

Friends, don’t even read to the end of the review before you book tickets for Cuisine and Confessions. Do it now. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2cLgh8A.

Having done that, you should know: Cuisine and Confessions is one of the most sublime acrobatic performances you’ll ever see. Québec company The 7 Fingers has gathered performers from around the world. In Cuisine and Confessions, these artists share their considerable skills as well as personal stories about what food has meant in their lives. While doing that, they also cook. At the end of the performance, you can share in the meal.

I defy you to see this show and not shout out in joy and wonder.

Near the top of the performance, Melvin Diggs, who is so handsome it should be illegal, shares a simple omelette recipe, then tells us why omelettes are so important to him. When he was a kid, his siblings would all spend the weekend with their dad, but Diggs never knew his father, so he was the only child left at home. Every Sunday morning, his mom made him an omelette as a sign of her love.

Then Diggs dances and tumbles with another man, Sidney Bateman. The expansive kitchen set for this show is as playful in its use of space as the performers are. To set up Diggs and Bateman’s routine, all the cast members pull squares and rectangles from the kitchen shelving and stack them, creating teetering towers, through which the two men hurl themselves, flying and springing. Diggs has perfected a phenomenal move in which he runs at a stack of rectangles, leaps through the highest one feet first and strolls casually away on the other side. Watching these two guys discover hidden channels in the air was like watching them sculpt space. It was so beautiful that I wept.

Another performer moved me to tears for different reasons. Matias Plaul, who is from Argentina, imagines his father’s last meal. Plaul’s dad, who was a communist intellectual and revolutionary, is one of the disappeared who were kidnapped and murdered by the military junta.

This recollection releases a wrenching exploration of grief and fury. Plaul works in a discipline that’s known in circus circles as the Chinese pole. With simian efficiency, he clambers to the top of a tall pole, then inverts himself and plunges head first towards the floor, before saving his life at the last minute. And that’s not the half of it.

There’s lots of flat-out fun in Cuisine and Confessions, too. When you go, go early. Evening shows start at 8:00, but they open the doors at 7:30. If you’re there by then, you get to play with the performers as they warm up the space. And believe me: these are people you want to play with.

Throughout the evening, the staging is phenomenal. Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila conceived and directed this piece, and there is easily as much choreography to it as acrobatics. The imagery is often deliciously layered. As Anna Kichtchenko prepares to take flight in an exquisite turn on the aerial silks, in which she uses fabric that looks like a gingham tablecloth in a high-flying dance, other performers fill the stage, cavorting with dishrags and pieces of clothing.

The music, which was all recorded specifically for this show (Soldevila worked with New York jazz club owner Spike Wilner) includes everything from a dizzying cover “You Better Shape Up” to “Chop Chop Miam Miam”, which is based on a children’s game. If you can buy this soundtrack, sign me up.

Within all of this excellence, there are a couple of holes in the current iteration of Cuisine and Confessions. In her story about growing up in a Finnish circus, for instance, Nella Niva doesn’t match the skill level of her teammates, and the evening goes a little slack in the middle.

But you’ve got to consider: Slack compared to what? The highs in Cuisine and Confessions shoot you off the top of the Matterhorn. And the vision is transcendent: like in the orgy scene from the TV series Sense8, folks from all over the globe partner up in all sorts of gender combinations to explore their bodies’ capacity for creating beauty. In these dark times, Cuisine and Confessions reminds us of how thrilling it is to be human.

CUISINE AND CONFESSIONS Conceived and directed by Shana Carroll & Sébastien Soldevila. Produced by The 7 Fingers. Presented by Théâtre la Seizième. At the Vancouver Playhouse on Wednesday, January 25. Continues until January 29.

Get tickets at http://bit.ly/2cLgh8A

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