‘Cuisine’ cleverly combines feats and food
BOSTON – You don’t often get to meet the man or woman behind the acrobat and get their story.
Just as the late Michael Bennett allowed us to peek behind the facades of the dancers seeking Broadway jobs in “A Chorus Line,” the members of the Montreal-based company Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 fingers of the hand) are allowing us to see the person behind the derring-do that is at the center of the American premiere of “Cuisine & Confessions,” now being presented by ArtsEmerson and Jonathan Reinis Productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.
It is a very unique and original concept. Members of the company perform feats that require strength, concentration, bravery, flexibility, and then regale us with stories about food – and not just stories, but in this case examples, be it Gummy Bears offered to audience members, a made-to-order omelette, or pasta and banana bread, much of which was offered to the audience after the show.
The food is an appetizer, so to speak, for the main event: the derring-do being performed by the members of the troupe, which at a recent performance included performers from all over the world, including Heloise Bourgeois of France, Americans Melvin Diggs and Sidney Iking Bateman, Russian Anna Kichtchenko, Finn Nella Niva, Swede Mishannock Ferrero, Canadian Emile Pineault, and Argentinians Matias Plaul and Pablo Prampano.
They all have their specialities and they also all have their stories about the role food – or a particular dish – played in their lives.
Most of the stories are light-hearted, but Argentinian Plaul delivers a harrowing tale about the day of Jan. 4, 1977, when his father, then 32, was kidnapped and then disappeared, never to be seen again. His feats included being being able to support himself on the Chinese pole with just his feet or hurtling downwards on a rope before stopping a few inches above the stage.
There is another bit in which a company member briefly courts a member of the audience, which is charming, and another sketch which doesn’t work quite as well involving three other random audience members, invited onstage to dish about food, a number which quickly became awkward.
There are main a main (hand to hand) routines with a performer balancing himself on the one hand of his partner, while Russian Kichtchenko dangles perilously during an aerial routine using a silken garment that turns into a silk rope, and American Bateman and Diggs hurl themselves through stacked rectangles.
It all takes place on a well-designed kitchen set, that includes a working oven, and a huge number of shelves, as well as a breakfast island.
This is the fourth show Les 7 doigts has brought to Boston after “PSY,’’ “Traces,’’ and “Sequence 8.’’
Gypsy Snyder and members of the group also contributed mightily to the success of the Tony Award-winning revival of “Pippin” that was produced by the American Repertory Theatre.
The troupe knows no physical limitations, and the joy with which they perform their stunts spills over onto an appreciative audience.
“Cuisine & Confessions” is fast and funny and Les doigts 7 apparently has figured out that the way to a critic’s heart might be through his stomach.
ArtsEmerson and Jonathan Reinis Productions presentation of “Cuisine & Confessions.” Creation and staging by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila. Production by Les 7 doigts de la main. Presented by ArtsEmerson and Jonathan Reinis Productions. At Cutler Majestic Theatre, through Aug. 7. Tickets: $25-$125, 617-824-8400, www.artsemerson.org