Monday, February 7, 2011
Mulan Acrobatic Show
Performed by the Chongqing Acrobatic Art Troupe
State Theatre, Melbourne
February 3, 2011
The Chongqing Acrobatic Art Troupe have created a stunning circus show which is loosely based on the Chinese myth of Mulan, the girl who joins the army in place of her elderly father. It’s colourful, incredible and most of all, great fun.
The iridescent stage design and breathtaking stunts are all geared toward supporting the light-hearted, pantomime narrative, which gives some cohesion without being overbearing. There are good guys and bad guys, a love story and cheeky kids, just the right formula for families.
But it’s the skills of this Chinese troupe which form the centrepiece. Whether juggling, tumbling, twhirling or clowning, they are nothing short of amazing. As if balancing a lantern pole in their teeth isn’t hard enough, four of the women climb atop each other’s shoulders while keeping their lanterns aloft. Men in blazing gold unitards build several mind-boggling human pyramids, mostly involving handstands atop handstands.
Talented child-clowns, surely no more than 12 years old, play a starring role. Interacting with the audience and performing amazing acrobatic feats, they are professional beyond their years.
The techno-fuelled meteor act is a brilliant climax, with the reflective spinning props thrown high and dexterously caught. Soaring aerials make for a picturesque love scene, while the combination of gymnastics and high jump required to complete the astonishing two metre high hoop dive is worthy of Olympic gold.
The acting may be patchy in places and the final scene is disappointing, but these are minor quibbles. On the whole, Mulan is marvelous.
Review by Chloe Smethurst
First Published in The Age newspaper
Posted by Chloe Smethurst