Our Chinese Finale, a Show at a Provincial Theatre in Shanghai
After visiting the Shanghai Tower, bimbling around the Bund, taking on a department store and resting over an ice cream, we settled in a small theatre to fill the time before taking the Maglev train to the airport for our red-eye back to Kuala Lumpur. There were about forty people in the audience in the dated and dank setting, our expectations were low to middling.
At seven thirty the show began with a dragon dance, several men waggling head and tail, jumping over the end of tail as swooshed through. Next came a group of ladies who danced with traditional red lanterns. The dragon dancers came back and went through flick-flacks through ever higher placed rings which caused the audience their first “wows”.
A young lady with incredible balance was soon resting her bottom on the back of her head........
Even if either of us was proud to achieve this level of flexibility, we would need a damn good orthopaedic surgeon to correct the damage.
My gag reflex was going overtime when the ‘thingy’ was put in her mouth. Little twinkly things gripped in the sole of each foot, each hand and her mouth, all shown off with impossible positions.
It was a relief when the next act was a pair of strongmen.
Wouldn’t do for these chaps to have an argument before going on. Lovely to watch.
A troop of young girls waggled their drums, great to hear the taps as their feet came in contact with the drum skins and the click as they hit the edges. Then they piled on top of one another, spinning their partner, ending with the base girl flipping her rider along to the girl next door. Piles of three spun each way and the top girl flipped a long drum.
A couple showed their strength as they danced mid-air on two ribbons.
Neither of us had seen the string and bobbin act for years.
The hat-swappers were great fun.
The ever-increasingly heavy back-drops were now getting wearing and distracting from the act. A juggler began with three balls and slowly rose to six.
The girls were back to show their skill on bicycles.
While something was being prepared behind the closed curtains an intriguing act became captivating. In Chengdu (city known for the panda research centre) there is an ancient art form – mask changing. This young lady came amongst the audience and ‘high-fived’ people as she changed face in a flash. She had me tap her face and voila, in a split second another face with a completely different features. As I tapped I felt the mask to be of finest nylon but I could be wrong. At the end of the act we knew it to be a young lady as she ended with a half-mask, the whole head thing was ripped off for her bow. Very different and entertaining.
We had to look up the final act, known as the Globe of Death, always a show or circus finale, a stunt rider began with horizontal rides around the small (seemed small) metal cage but was soon going up and over vertically. He was soon joined by a second rider and we saw fireworks from their exhausts.
Two riders became three, four and five. The skill and precision is a known fact when you consider there have only been three deaths recorded since 1949. The act began with wooden slats back in 1910 and lady riders cause quite a stir..... When all five came to the front of the stage to take their final bow, one by one they removed their helmets and four chaps raised a salute to the last rider – a young lady......... An hour and a half (no interval) and we were off to the Maglev train having been thoroughly entertained.
ALL IN ALL A FUN WAY TO END OUR CRAZY FORTNIGHT
FAST-FLOWING AND SURPRISINGLY GOOD