Tuesday, 22 September 2009

street shows in Manchester

How I wish I'd remembered to take my camera with me on Saturday when we went along to Piccadily Gardens in Manchester for the free street shows!! Wow, did we see some wonderful things!

What caught my eye on the leaflet was a performance including two of the original guys who ran up, down, over etc buildings in Paris. I remember seeing them on tv somw time ago, and being amazed at their agility and nerve. So they were my main incentive to pack up a picnic and head over to the big city.

We arrived in plenty of time for the stated 1pm start time, and settled down with the picnic rug on an area of free grass. As we ate our avocado salads we watched people appearing, setting out their accoutrements, and generally busying themselves. The Troll's Kitchen was behind us, offering various unsavoury items, and boasting shelves of jars which would have been quite at home in your friendly neighbourhood witch's lkitchen, you know, eye of newt, that sort of thing. The "chefs" later appeared in their oversize floppy hats, and the children seemed to be quite happy to mix things up in large bowls.

Across from us was what looked like a sturdy child's climbing frame, with some steps and a few platforms. This was the substitute buildings for the group to climb on, jump from, dance around, pose on, etc. As well as the two guys from Paris, there were, to the best of my recollection, two female dancers, a break dancer extraordinaire, and another very acrobatic man with exceptional abilities to maintain a pose.

The music track failed on the first show, but worked successfully on their second appearance, and greatly enhanced the show. Their agility was amazing, and the event was well choreographed by one of the young ladies. Clearly we enjoyed it, as we watched it twice! A few lucky members of the audience were able to take part in workshops after each performance - how I wish I was 30 years younger!!

I'd go to watch them again, and would love to see the team actually doing the street running which would seem to have inspired the act.

Another performance which we thoroughly enjoyed, and also watched twice, was the moveable feast. The team of four, two male, two female, worked in a compact area around a dinner table with 6 seats - complete with glass chandelier! The table was moved along like a gigantic wheelbarrow, with two long handles which disappeared into one side when they had arrived at their pitch, with the assistance of a strong young man picked from the audience!

A lovely young lady in sexy black evening dress informed us that she would teach us some dinner party etiquette. She took an empty wooden picture frame, and held it against random males in the audience, naming them as earlier husbands, or partners. The last one was asked to remain the portrait for the act, and David held this vital role in our second viewing - he will sign autographs on request!!

After locating her portrait, she then rang a bell, the doorbell, and again walked round the audience to find her dinner guest, after setting the music track in operation. A young man in blue anorak was dragged forward, and seated at the head of the tablle. He seemed quite embarrassed, but remained seated. Our hostess wanted to demonstrate how a dinner guest should deal with olives, and offered a bowl to her guest. He mumbled that he didn't acually like olives, which our hostess announced loudly to the rest of us, then said "Tough Titties!", and re-offered the olives to the poor young man.

As he went to take one, she frowned and shook her head, he then tried a different approach, which was also rejected, even picking up a fork met with her smiling disapproval. She waggled her tongue, indicating that he should take one with his mouth. This he reluctantly did. Now the problem was, to spit or swallow? He spat, and was clouted with the silver salver - wrong decision!!

Then the music became louder, he leapt up, stripped off his anorak, revealing himself as one of the acting troupe. He donned an eveing waistcoat which was hanging on one of the chairs, and the party began.

I won't tell you any more - it would spoil it if you were to come across it anywhere on your travels. I will say, don't miss it, they were very good.

We also watched a mime act set in a railway station, complete with steam train, yes, really (well, alright, steam train effects if I must be totally honest). It was lovely to see small children and adults watching the same show with evident enjoyment - and as it was mime, all nationalities could appreciate it too, a great idea.

When we though it was all over, we discovered a couple of amazingly strong, acrobatic young people giving a demonstration in another part of the area, so that was a bonus. I always wonder at the strength and hours of practise that go into these acts. I could never support my own weight on one hand, let alone be balancing on just one hand of my partner as I did so!! Very impressive.

All in all we had a lovely afternoon, and it made a great change. Let's hope there's another such event soon:)

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