I had briefly seen them when they supported Paul McCartney years ago. But that was mainly balancing and floor acrobatics all done with a few clever bits of art.
On Sunday I went with Kel and my Mum and Dad to see their full show at Nottingham Arena.
The name of this show was Saltimbanco and it’s based around something they’ve been doing for 18 years.
As we were taking our seats there were a few of the cast dressed in brightly coloured lycra with big nosed featureless masks. They went around the seated audience doing cheeky things to them and even got a few children involved in some basic acrobatics.
The main even started with the cast doing some dancing on the stage to the tunes of the live band who were actually quite rock and roll and possibly featured the drumming of Nick D’Virgillio of Spock’s beard fame.
The first of the proper acts involved the Chinese poles which were four poles in the middle of the stage that had anywhere between 4 or 16 of the multicoloured characters on them at any one time. They climbed up, dropped down, jumped between, hung from, and spun around for about 10 minutes. (ps some info nicked from the website ;)) Good feats of strength.
At some point during the first half the mime artist did his thing on the stage. Most mime artists deserve to be punched in the face but this one didn’t have any of that silly traditional costume on and was actually quite good as he got locked behind a door and then got trapped in a loo which flooded until he was underwater until saved by some of the crazy looking faceless worm people.
The artistic bicycle section featured a man with a real face riding around the circular stage while moving around on the bike. Stuff that I’ve seen variations of before but it’s still quite impressive to see that kind of skill.
Like Wonka’s Munchins the cock-nosed freaks would appear before each new scene to take away the spent artists and set up the stage for the new ones.
Mr juggling man was next. His chosen objects were steps and ping pong balls. He managed to build up to 8 balls being bounced on his platform at the top of his steps. All very talented but I couldn’t help occasionally peeking at the fluorescent crazies at the side of the stage who were amusing themselves with balls stolen from the main act.
The section entitled Boleadoras had a man and a woman doing some rhythmic drumming before revealing their bolas (metal weights attached to long string) which they whizzed around on either side of them creating more beats when they hit the floor. This culminated in them both getting quite close to each other while continuing to play the fastest game of conkers I’ve ever seen.
The whole smurfy lot of them were out for the Russian swing. But then while there was only one swinger and 3 jumpers they also needed people to hold the landing pads steady and steady them after their triple somersaults. Even though they had wires on it was still impressive to see them jump onto a 3 man high human totem pole.
The Duo Trapeze was possibly the most awe inspiring of the acts. 2 blonde ladies were carried onto the stage in an entwined bundle and they slowly split and climbed onto a single trapeze where they shifted themselves into a variety of positions including one being held upside-down by only the power of each others leg/foot/toes. Impressive indeed.
After that the simple hand to hand act didn’t compare. After seeing 2 women in rocking embrace it’s tough to be excited about 2 bald men balancing on each other.
However the 2 freaky people (with faces) that did their comedy slapstick take on it were quite entertaining.
The mime returned in the 2nd half and this time had some audience participation. Some poor tough looking man was led up to the stage and made to follow the mime into his world of kung fu moves and fancy pistol throwing before entering into a high noon duel to the death.
Oh and he wasn’t really a mime as he kept making sound effect noises with his voice. So if he was really rubbish maybe he would just get a slap, but as it was he ended up being another show highlight.
The big finish was a bungee act with 4 bungeers dressed in white bouncing above the stage in and out of their trapeze bases. Well choreographed and well performed as was the whole event.
It might have been quite pricey but they did present over 2 hours of entertainment and together with band and crew there must have been 40+ people involved. But it was worth it to have a nice memory of a nice day out with my gal and my folks.