Walking into NYU’s Skirball Center I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew that Cuisine and Confessions, the latest show from the group called The 7 Fingers (directed by Shana Carroll and Sebastie Soldevila), involved acrobatics, but I wasn’t sure how the ‘cuisine’ and ‘confessions’ part fit in. I didn’t have to wait long after finding my seat to find out.
Almost immediately I was offered a handful of gummy bears and a piece of chocolate from cast members. The entire company was wandering around the theatre before the show started offering the audience sweets like chocolate, Spanish coffee, and even showing off their egg cracking skills with that famous one-handed technique. I had never seen anything like this before, but I enjoyed being wined and dined.
Once the performance began, I began to understand the significance of the title of the show. It wasn’t a musical and it wasn’t quite a play, but somehow it worked as theatre. The construction of the show allowed each cast member (all hailing from different countries such as Argentina, Russia and Sweden) to tell their family stories involving food, or in some cases, their darkest secrets.
The show starts off with Melvin Diggs telling his story about the only three elements you need to make the perfect omelet are eggs, peppers, and love. Melvin tells his story about when he was growing up his siblings would all visit their different fathers on the weekend, except for him. Instead, he would stay home with his mother who would then make her fantastic omelets to make up for him not having a father to visit.
His story is followed by a fantastic acrobatic routine with fellow cast member Sidney Batemen where the two jump through wooden squares, and them tumble over each other again and again. With such aerodynamic moves, the pair earned quite a few gasps from the audience for their flawless routine; this was not to be the last. In fact, the stories and routines happened about five more times, each with a new story and even more gasp-worthy moves.
There was Heloise Bourgeois who mounted a pole with just her feet and hands and then plummeted to the bottom. Following her amazing performance was Anna Kitchenko rising in the air to perform a flawless, if not somewhat terrifying, aerial silk routine. And the most heart wrenching act of the night was Matias Plaul on a Chinese pole as he told his father’s story of being kidnapped in Argentina and taken to a concentration camp where he was murdered.
This awe-inspiring show ended like it started—with food. Following the final bow, cast members speedily delivered pieces of banana bread and plates of pasta to the entire audience. Not only did the audience leave with full stomachs, but they left knowing that they had just seen a performance that is so unique that it couldn’t be easily replicated. And that’s the beauty of this show.
Cuisine and Confessions presented by The 7 Fingers at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on April 11-16, 2017. Creation and staging by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila; musical direction by Sébastien Soldevila; lighting design by Éric Champoux; scenic design by Ana Cappelluto; accessories by Cloé Alain-Gendreau; costume design by Anne-Séguin Poirier; design of acrobatic apparatus by Yannick Labonté; acrobatic design by Jérôme LeBaut; production management by Luc Paradis; technical director: Yves Touchette; original music by Nans Bortuzzo, Colin Gagné, Raphaël Cruz, Transition Public DJ Pocket. Cast: Sidney Bateman, Héloïse Bourgeois, Melvin Diggs, Mishannock Ferrero, Anna Kachalova, Anna Kichtchenko, Gabriella Parigi, Matias Plaul, and Pablo Pramparo.
Cover: Cast of ‘Cuisine and Confessions;’ photo: Ian Douglas.
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