It’s a feast for body and soul on a summer night: a troupe of young, sexy, international performers begin whirling about the stage, turning somersaults, tossing eggs, telling stories and cooking up their latest recipe for love, laughter, and courage in what Poet Jack Gilbert called “the furnace of this world.” The show is called CUISINE & CONFESSIONS performed by a circus from Montreal called Les 7 Doigts De La Main (The 7 fingers of the hand) and believe me, they are a handful. They’ve once again descended on Boston’s Emerson/Cutler Majestic in the U.S. premiere of their international hit show, a joyous, sensual leap into the void that explores the ties that bind, especially food and family.
The show is a luscious and revelatory combination of acrobatics, dance, story-telling, music, juggling, improvisation, and cooking– recipes included in the program! The set is an onstage working kitchen where anything might happen, from spinal cord injuries to kidnappings, broken plates to broken hearts. These 9 performers–Sidney Iking Bateman, Melvin Diggs, Mishannock Ferrero, Anna Kichtchenko, Heloise Bourgeois, Nella Niva, Emile Pineault, Matias Plaul, and Pablo Pramparo–recount their own family memories of food and life, while simultaneously whipping up banana bread and boiling pasta for and with the entire audience. This is one time you MUST bring your cell phone to the theater; it will be essential to the denouement!
These frisky, funny, magnetic performers play with their food, with us, and each other, while hurling their lithe and muscled limbs about the stage, from floor to tabletop to ceiling, through windows of teetering wooden frames; flying above, around, and through one another with extraordinary precision and endless, undulating grace. In one exquisite set piece, a beautiful young Russian aerialist (Kichtchenko) dangles high above the stage from a twist of silk, entangling us in her story, our hearts hanging by a thread.
I can’t swear that I understood every word spoken (the music sometimes overpowered, the accents were thick) but I do know that whisks were juggled, an omelette was cooked, at least one person fell in love, and we listened through tears to an Argentinian son’s tragic tale of a father he never knew and an imagined last meal before that young father disappeared–the victim of political torture and murder– forever. The impact of this story finds terrifying expression in one of the most daring acrobatic feats you’ll ever see on a stage.
The alchemy of this moment is a tribute to the artistry of this troupe. CUISINE & CONFESSIONS serves up the potency of human experience and its ingredients–joy, sorrow, celebration, recollection, love, tragedy, resilience–magically transforming their stories and ours into something we can all consume together: rich food for the soul. By the end the artists are leaping about the stage covered in flour, dusting up little white clouds of bliss as they prepare us all to break banana bread together. See this show–you’ll eat it up. Presented by ArtsEmerson and Jonathan Reinis Productions at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic through August 7!