It begins to the gramophone crackle of Little Jack Little’s earworm ‘I Always Wanted to Waltz in Berlin’, as the nine Gandini performers juggle apples and fix us with bland, elusive stares. It’s sepia-toned and dripping in nostalgia, but the song’s casual allusions to wartime bombing stick a dagger into the act’s innocent surface.
It’s this delicious disruption, this twinning of the charming and urbane with the threatening and apocalyptic which makes ‘Smashed’ an arresting piece of theatre as well as an adroit evening of juggling.
There’s pure pleasure in the widescreen spectacle of Gandini tossing apples back and forth in restless gravity-defying arcs, and belly laughs in their attempts to foil one another’s performances. The influence of German choreographer Pina Bausch is felt strongly in the structure of short vignettes which build fluently from a series of surprisingly mature and probing themes. Gandini’s approach to juggling allows the thrown object to represent a range of abstract concepts and emotional states – the apples become tokens of impotency or virility or objects of unattainable desire. One uncomfortable moment sees a female performer ‘birth’ the fruit on to the laps of the nervous males, while the only other woman stands motionless, head bowed sorrowfully, in the shadowed corner of the stage.
Gandini’s theme here is mischievously oblique, but as the apples are swapped for teacups and graceful catches switched for splats and crashes, things take a decidedly dark turn. Racism, misogyny and the shadow of National Socialism have all been tossed into the air before the evening is over, and while Gandini are happy to leave us guessing, it’s clear there’s a lot more going on here than a load of old balls.
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Im afraid Im with Caroline L, was fairly pleasant at the start but quickly turned rather dark/disturbing in the second half, this show is supposed to be family friendly (family tickets can be purchased with no age limit) however me and my party sat in the front row with 3, 5 and 7 year olds and literally feared for their safety as pieces of crockery smashed in all directions, we found ourselves shielding the kiddies faces just in case, not to mention being sprayed with bits of chewed up apple. Some children in the audience we're clearly disturbed by the final part one child cried and wanted to leave.
Due to the dark nature of the performance I feel it should be a adult only show or at least have some form of age restriction for kids and there should be some sort of warning at point of purchase & on entering the show that if you sit at the front (inches from the performers) then you may come in contact with flying debris, basic health & safety.
I wished I read both reviews from Vicky S and Caroline L before I purchased tickets for the whole family. Was a very pleasant family show that suddenly turned dark and disturbing . It wasn't a child friendly show and should have been given a warning. We were sitting at the front and wanted to leave as we got sprayed by chewed apple that was deliberately thrown towards the audience not to mention the flying broken tea cups etc.. The message is not suitable for children (no age limit when tickets purchased) performers shouting insults at each other, had to explain to my 5 and 7 year old that that behaviour is not accepted and it is a form of bullying . Have they thought about health and safety? as we had broken crockery on our bags left on the floor and chewed up apples. Not an ideal family day out!!
The reviewer thinks there's a lot more going on here than "a lot of old balls". I disagree. I think there's a lot less. I acknowledge the Pina Bausch references, and the first part of the show is accomplished enough. But the second, "darker", part is just a descent into ugly slapstick. This isn't a juggling show any more, it's not entertaining. And if you're trying to make some kind of connection with a critique of fascism or the like, I'm sorry, it's too disjointed for that and I don't think it holds up. I left when they were all crowded around the black performer, about to pour tea on him. I'd had enough, having just spent the past ten minutes watching them deliberately smash things and shout insults at each other. Sorry, too out there for me!