Adelaide Fringe 2012


0 Comments 27 February 2012

Presented by Strut & Fret
@ The Vagabond, Garden of Unearthly Delights
FRIDAY 24 Feb 2012 (until Feb 27)


A friend of mine mentioned earlier in the week that Cantina was the best show that she’d ever seen, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s no wonder the show won Best Overall Production and the Innovation Award at last year’s Fringe. Every tiny detail of the performance was so beautifully polished and put together that I would be surprised to hear a review state otherwise. Held in the Vagabond at the Garden of Unearthly Delights, audience members were packed together like sardines just to get a glimpse of the stage as men in bow ties aggressively demanded that we sit closer together in an attempt to fit even more people into the already full venue. On the evening of a 37 degree day, this was less than desirable, although it’s the only fault that I can find in this otherwise stunning performance.

Premiering at the 2010 Brisbane Festival, Cantina is a dark, glamorous and erotic circus cabaret show that will push your perceptions of beauty and intimacy and leave you on the edge of your seat. Stunning costumes with a vintage Parisian burlesque feel complement the even more beautiful bodies of the performers as they perform feats that certainly push the line between pleasure and pain. This is complemented by charming live music throughout, whether it’s the manic musings of the pianola and music box, or Nara Demasson’s whimsical ukulele, guitar and vocal solos.

Tense and dramatic from the onset, the show opens as Chelsea McGuffin astonishes audience members by doing the splits on the tightrope, while wearing high heels.  Contortionist Henna Kaikula performs a ‘rag doll’ act, punctuated by live sound effects that leave the audience fascinated and horrified at the same time. Mozes performs unbelievable gravity defying stunts on a rope hanging from the ceiling, whilst blinded by a hood covering his face, before swinging violently around the room by his neck. These dangerous stunts are often so calculated and tense that one finds themselves forgetting to breathe properly. However, the on-edge moments are juxtaposed with ones of incredible joy amongst the performers as they dance and sing together, and encourage one another’s genius. A sense of comedy is present throughout the performance as female performers light heartedly struggle to maintain their dignity whilst performing acrobatics in skirts and bloomers. Even more worthy of mention is the moment of full frontal male nudity that may dissuade less adventurous Fringe enthusiasts, but please don’t let it. These individual feats are interspersed with collaborations by different performers, whether it’s a heated fight, an erotic display or a dance between two lovers.

Despite hefty ticket prices (about $50) and the overcrowded venue, there is little to deter Adelaide Fringe goers from this amazing show. The performers are all highly professional and did not fail to deliver at any point throughout the evening, which I doubt to be an isolated occurrence. I would highly recommend Cantina to everyone, even those who sit on the conservative side. The eloquence with which the cast perform their erotic manoeuvres, violent expression and even the full frontal nudity is so perfect that it may be enough to change your preconceptions.

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