Auckland Arts Festival: Clowning around reminds of Basil and Manuel

By Paul Simei-Barton

What's cooking: Circus Ronaldo brings La Cucina dell'Arte to the Auckland Arts Festival. Photo / supplied
What's cooking: Circus Ronaldo brings La Cucina dell'Arte to the Auckland Arts Festival. Photo / supplied

What: La Cucina dell'Arte, to March 20

Where: Circus Ronaldo Big Top, Aotea Square

Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton

In an old fashioned big top, a charming pair of Belgian brothers dish up an instructive demonstration on how not to cook a pizza - along with a riotously funny and delightfully intimate feast of clowning.

The story follows the rivalry between a boss/worker combo who run a restaurant from hell and calls to mind the madcap antics of Basil and Manuel in the TV comedy Fawlty Towers.

The bizarre blend of fawning servility and malicious antipathy harks back to the ancient origins of Italian commedia traditions where familiar personality types are wildly exaggerated and everyday situations spiral into hysterically chaotic life-and-death struggles.

Danny Ronaldo, playing the servant, gives a virtuoso display of clowning with a brilliantly expressive vocabulary of gesture and gibberish along with an impressive range of juggling skills. David Ronaldo, as the arrogantly imperious master, provides a straight-man foil to his manic underling and there is a rich seam of comedy in the never-ending rivalry of two characters who are deeply dependent on each other.

The show rises to hilarious crescendo as a rapidly expanding forest of plates spinning on the tips of flexible rods has the audience on the edge of their seats anticipating the "thrill" of seeing fine crockery smash into pieces.

The old-world European charm is enhanced by a street vendor's wagon packed with a remarkable array of self-playing instruments and the show concludes with a lavishly romantic serenade for a lucky couple drawn from the audience.

- NZ Herald

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