Created and directed by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila. A Les 7 Doigts de la Main production, presented by Théâtre la Seizième. At the Vancouver Playhouse on Wednesday, January 25. Continues until January 29
If you’re reading this before January 29, drop everything and book a ticket now. Cuisine & Confessions, a spectacle that combines dazzling acrobatics with personal stories centred around food, offers deeply satisfying nourishment on so many levels.
The nine performers in the international cast assembled by creators Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila are gorgeous and gob-smackingly virtuosic; they’re also generous and personable, starting during the preshow, when they bring treats into the house or invite audience members to come on-stage and help them prepare food. The smell of cooking and the reference to spontaneous combustion during the curtain speech are just two clues that this show will be a little different.
And, wow, is it ever. The stage is dominated by a towering set of open-backed shelves filled with artfully arranged cooking implements and a functional stove. As performers take turns stepping up to a microphone and sharing tidbits about their childhood memories related to food—one relates his habit of stuffing all his vegetables into his mouth so he could run to the back door and spit them out—the others unfold an elaborate choreography to the rhythms of grating, chopping, and tossing tea towels.
Pablo Pramparo juggles wire whisks and mixing bowls with a fluidity that makes his body look like it’s made of liquid.
The wow moments just keep on coming: Melvin Diggs and Sidney Iking Bateman execute a series of graceful dives through wooden frames, evoking the mutual support of brotherhood; Anna Kichtchenko goes from a supple aerial routine to a deadpan infomercial narration promoting the protective properties of kitchen gear; and Matias Plaul punctuates an affecting narrative about his father, an Argentine desaparecido, with dazzling acrobatics on a fire pole.
The ingenious transfigurations of Ana Cappelluto’s set, Eric Champoux’s colour-saturated lighting, and the sensuous music, which, under Soldevila’s direction, features surprising retoolings of everything from Tom Waits to a song from Grease, all serve to underscore the mind-blowing skill of the performers.
But food is the show’s warm, beating heart, giving Cuisine & Confessions a human dimension that counterpoints its many awe-inspiring physical feats, and invites you to become part of the experience. Do it. The kitchen has never been so exciting.