Well, you don’t see that every day! The annual Chinese New Year Festival was pure entertainment and a triumph all round.
The event is best described as Chinese culture themed variety circus act, but those words are really too flat for what was a joyful, polished and frankly incredible series of acrobatic performances. To try and convey the mind boggling things you might experience if you come next year, let me list just a few:
Five ladies spinning eight plates each while forming a human pyramid; six gentlemen juggling multiple hats between themselves as they stand on each other’s shoulders; a lady spinning a table above her head using only her feet; an 18-metre-long dragon dancing on stage through a series of complex aerial loops...
The above is just a small selection of the fourteen (yes fourteen!) different acts that bombard the senses one after the other. Every act was polished, tight and well paced. There was humour, there was charm, there was tension. And music. And costumes. And a guy in a panda suit, naturally.
As well as the acrobatics, gymnastics and contortion there were also musical interludes and a charmingly cheesy host to guide the very varied crowd through the evening. On that note, though I took my mum to the performance, I would have felt equally comfortable with a bunch of mates, my wife or a gaggle of children.
This was the third year running that the Confucius Institute at Oxford Brookes put on a Chinese culture extravaganza to usher in the new lunar year. Due to its popularity in previous years, the Playhouse was the chosen venue for the Year of the Pig for its larger capacity, and I guess, judging by tonight’s performance, it might have to be in the New Theatre in 2020.
It was unusual to be fully entertained for a full two hours (with 20 minute break) by a variety show with no narrative. I guess it is a testament to the jaw dropping performances that at no point was I bored or did my mind wander: the sheer spectacle of a lady squeezing herself through a tiny little tube bum-first simply left no room for the mind to wander!
I didn’t quite know what to expect coming in, but I was absolutely not disappointed. I would urge you all to get onto the mailing list (email [email protected]) and await next year with baited breath.