Performing Arts: Theater
April 18, 2017
Where else can you enjoy personal stories, delicious food, mind-boggling acrobatics, intimate revelations, seamless dancing and hair-raising stunts all wrapped into one? Cuisine and Confessions, directed, written, and choreographed by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila, gives us the chance to be immersed in their Proustian world of food as memory trigger, cultural identification, potlatch offering, and communal glue. It is a riveting show from beginning to end, a rare theatrical experience that can entertain as well as move you, no matter what your age.

Before the start of the show, the actors/players/dancers/acrobats (all the cast members seem adept at all of it) are out and about in the house, chatting with audience members and colluding with each other. As soon as Ana Capelluto’s stage set is revealed through Eric Champoux’s wonderfully warm lighting, we see a spectacularly organized kitchen, complete with a vast wall of shelving in the background, a ladder, a large island in front of it that will later reveal another table, stackable chairs, a sofa, etc. The cast members dance around the stage playfully, some approaching a microphone downstage, telling us a bit of personal information that then propels them to move and dance as a response to the confession they have just shared publicly.

From the juggling of egg beaters and plates, to jumping through small wooden frames, to the standard cheerleading tosses and lifts, to a stunning arial sequence and gravity-defying pole dancing, our kinesthetic sense is constantly on alert and alive, as we follow each tightly choreographed scene featuring one of the cast members, each getting their moment in the spotlight.

We learn how for one man, eating fries and reading books with his mother on the weekends alone, while his siblings went to “see their dads,” actually made him feel special rather than left out. In another, more sobering vignette, we learn about a cast member’s father, who disappeared during the in Argentina’s “dirty war” when thousands of people were abducted and murdered by the ruling military regime. His anger and fear is sublimated into a phenomenal sequence on a pole, where he drops down at lightning speed toward the ground, screeching to a halt with his face just inches from the floor.

A former gymnast who is a dead ringer for Mary Lou Retton mused about her years of food deprivation and reveled in her full, rounded figure, as she upended our expectations by skillfully executing a series of balance beam sequences, followed by the “10!” arched back salute, head thrown back and grinning from ear to ear. Audience members come up to the stage several times, once for a dinner “date” with a cast member, and another time sitting around a coffee table with other audience members, forced to finally speak to each other about a strategically placed container full of olives.

The seamless integration of biographical snippets, highly skilled acrobatics, and graceful partnering and transitions, lull us into forgetting about the banana bread that they actually make and bake on stage, timed by our own cellphone alarms. By the end of the show, all that activity has worked up our appetite, and we gladly accept the invitation to share a snack with the performers, a fitting and friendly end.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

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