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Cuisine & Confessions unites athleticism and culinary romance

7 Fingers’ Cuisine & Confessions is a small-scale circus act, an athletic event mixed with culinary romanticism.

Alexandre Galliez

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Cuisine & Confessions
Written by
Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila
Directed by
Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila
Actors
Sidney Bateman, Nelson Caillard, Melvin Diggs and Mishannock Ferrero
Company
7 Fingers
Venue
Princess of Wales Theatre
City
Toronto
Runs Until
Sunday, December 04, 2016

In my time, I have witnessed an apple turnover, but otherwise the relationship between food and acrobatics is a very distant one. So here comes the Montreal-based 7 Fingers company with its Cuisine & Confessions, a kitchen-set feast for the soul and a physically adroit circus spread for the minds and eyes.

The premise of the show, which opened at the Princess of Wales on a rainy Wednesday evening, is a simple (and unforeseeable) one. It involves the stories of the supple cast members, who provided food-and-family recollections that were weaved into the gymnastic exhibitions. "My childhood memories taste like popcorn and cotton candy," we hear early on, from someone brought up in the big-top life.

It's all a part of the act – a small-scale circus act, presented athletically and with culinary romanticism.

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Cuisine & Confessions is new, one of the company's several touring presentations. An audience arrives to their seats while the casually dressed performers – soon to be artful tumblers, gravity-defiers and backflip surprisers – hang around a lofty kitchen. Some grate cheese, some invite crowd members to crack eggs one-handed and one guy fell off the stage while drinking coffee.

Once the performance proper begins, an audience member – young Rachel, a swell egg – is called up on the stage. One of the performers has fallen in love with her. He deftly manages three whisks – utensil ingredients for any kitchen-based juggler. An omelette is served. How does it taste? Two thumbs up from Rachel.

Highlights include a sublime aerial routine from Anna Kichtchenko, suspended high up by a checkered tablecloth. Americans Melvin Diggs and Sidney Bateman are inventive and athletically outstanding at jumping through wooden squares.

Members of the cast come from all over; accents are thick and the music crosses borders.

The most daring feat comes from Matias Plaul, who works the Chinese pole in such nifty and perilous ways as to have any firemen present weeping in appreciation. The shimmying Argentinean also offers a poignant soliloquy, recalling a father he never knew. He was one of the leftist subversives who had "disappeared," a victim of the country's ruthless military regime in the 1970s and 80s.

What does the story have to do with food? Nothing really. The performer wonders aloud about his father's last meal, but the culinary connection seems to be an unnatural one, forced into the show's overall narrative.

There is a lot to take in at times; focusing isn't easy when all of the acrobats get to business simultaneously. Better was the segment with a male and female pair who dance a sensual duet to a brooding violin soundtrack. If they are making love, the act is the opposite of obscene.

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Dinner with friends and family, recipes passing through generations, hot chocolate memories and a party in the room with the fridges, sinks and stoves: Some of life's best moments come straight from the kitchen.

At the end of Cuisine & Confessions, the cast is covered in flour and perspiration, and we smell the actual dinner being prepared all show long. Pasta is served to anyone wishing to linger, while small packages of banana bread are handed to people as they leave.

The labelling on the "good for you" dessert reads "indulge without guilt," which is good advice, when it comes to food, theatre and otherwise.

Cuisine & Confessions runs through Dec. 4 (mirvish.com).

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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