Friday, May 25, 2007

Cuban Grooves

After a pleasantly aimless week of No Theatre, I ended my drought by drifting over to the boxy, character-free Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells city-centre sister venue, to see their new show Havana Rakatan.

This is one of those big dance extravaganza type things that Sadler’s Wells likes to stage from time to time. The last one was Brasil Brasileiro, which I saw last summer, and this new production does for Cuba’s musical heritage what that show did for Brazil’s.

Havana Rakatan is a kind of chronological trawl through the country’s musical history, so we get opening scenes devoted to Cuban music’s colonial and African influences, with a second act concentrating on mambo and salsa, with a little chachacha chucked in for good measure. And it was entertaining, as these things go, though I often find these shows work as a kind of two hour build-up to that bit at the end where they want to get everyone on their feet and clapping in unison. Something I whole-heartedly detest, being both a natural introvert and a bit of a snob. Still despite my resistance to the enforced enjoyment factor, the sheer energy of the musicians and dancers made it nearly impossible not to get swept along by things - at least a little bit anyway.

I was however distracted by the dancers’ costumes on a number of occasions: in the earlier tribal set-piece, one chap appeared to have scalped Bungle and be wearing the results on his head, while later on, one woman was sporting, not only an Ed Wood-worthy mid-riff exposing angora sweater, but also these bizarre billowy satin hot pants that resembled, rather disconcertingly, an adult nappy. No-one else on stage was thus encumbered. I think she may have lost a bet or pissed off the costume designer.

There were also a large number of toned, shirt-less and sweat-slick torsos on display, Lisa, I suspect will be rather sorry she sat this one out.

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