Hey guys!! This week, me and my family watched an amazing acrobatic performance as part of city of Culture which transported us back in time to the eclectic Hotel Paradiso from the 1940s, threatened with bankruptcy and struggling to stay afloat. The show featured a cast of 6 expertly trained circus performers from the ‘Lost in translation circus’ who each took on a different role in the show. These roles included the eccentric but amusing hotel owner Madame, the sly, scheming banker, the serious, cool headed receptionist, the awkward but sweet doorman, the dainty, pretty maid and the passionate, slightly menacing chef. With a blend of incredible acrobatics, theatrical story telling, clowning and slapstick, the audience were transfixed throughout and extremely entertained. So in today’s blog post, I’m going to further describe the ‘Hotel Paradiso’ performance and give you my honest opinion of it.
On our way into the location of the performance which was Archbishop Sentamu Academy, a red carpet had been laid out for the audience to walk along into the building and people dressed in fancy dresses and suits, clearly acting as guests of the hotel paced along the red carpet, interacting with people waiting to enter and each other. Doormen and women were lined up on either side of the entrance, welcoming people in and directing them to the seating area. As part of some pre- performance entertainment, the hotel guests danced along to the live swing band Mad Dog Trio that were blasting out jazz and swing songs and they also faced some unwanted attention from the hotel doorpeople as they tried to escort them out of the premises, assumingly because they were dancing in the hotel lobby.
The performance began with the maid, doorman, chef and receptionist attending to the set up of the hotel by transporting furniture inside like lamps, tables and vases. The chef launched suitcases across the room at the doorman and he managed to catch every single one. It was clear from their first interaction that the two were rivals and vyed for the attention of the pretty maid. After the hotel had all its appropriate furniture set up, the chef overturned one of the tables which had 3 pairs of poles with circular disks protruding out of it, ascending in height and in an attempt to impress the maid, he pulled himself up into a handstand on the shortest set of poles and widened his legs out into the splits. Fueled by the delight of the audience at that trick, he balanced his weight onto one of the poles and turned his body sideways. After this, the maid decided to join in and they performed a series of spectacular balancing tricks together which included the maid balancing elegantly on one hand whilst the chef gripped her hand and slowly circled her around and both of them transferring all of their weight onto one pole while they stuck one leg out to the side and bent the other up in the air. Once their duet had finished, the four performers arranged themselves in preparation for the next trick with the receptionist and doorman placing a door with a table and lampshade on top of it on the already upturned table so the chef could execute a handstand on the lamp. Madame appeared during this from behind the main door and proceeded to sample some of the wine that was near the front desk. While she grimaced as she tasted the wine, the chef and doorman tidied away the furniture they’d been using for the tricks. They both fought to place the white cloth back over the table they’d previously overturned with the chef flinging the cloth over the doormans head in the end and storming off to leave the doorman to fix the table on his own. Madame gathered them in to come and greet her so the four of them lined up before her. The doorman ended up next to the maid and both of them were sending each other shy smiles until out of jealousy, the chef rearranged the line and placed himself next to the maid instead. Madame continued on to dramatically kiss and embrace each member of staff until she reached the doorman whom she completely ignored and exited the hotel instead of greeting him. Left alone in the hotel reception, the doorman started to clear up before the chef appeared on the first level of the massive flight on stairs and lobbed a ball at the doorman’s head which he luckily dodged before he was hit on the head. Next, the chef, the maid and the receptionist all launched balls at the doorman from the 3 levels of the flight of stairs and once the doorman had collected up all the balls, he began to juggle with them . It was clear he had a great deal of talent in juggling as he proceeded to perform amazing tricks with the balls like balancing them on his head and catching them on a glass bottle. His fellow acrobats kept throwing balls at him until he had a total of 8 balls which he juggled easily and ended his solo act by tossing all the balls in opposite directions.
The next part of the act that followed introduced the sly banker as he marched into the hotel, uninvited, and propped up a sign entitled ‘ For Sale Bankruptcy’. Emerging from the door, the five other characters appeared and the banker produced a letter from his briefcase for Madame to read. Determined to read the letter in private, Madame stepped away from her employees but they traced her footsteps and peered over her shoulder anyway. Each one of them scanned across the letter and as they reached the end of it, all of their faces crippled with despair and they all held onto each other as they wept. The banker announced that the hotel had now been reclaimed by him but not to be defeated, the five acrobats propelled themselves into a new routine in a quest to prove they were still worthy of keeping the hotel. Golden buckets were placed in front of a wooden chair which Madame seated herself on as her employees lifted her up in the air and circled her around. She imitated a lion with her expression and her hand movements and after she was safely back on the ground, they pulled out all the stops with flips, aerials, overhead lifts and balancing. For the grand finale, the maid clambered onto the chef’s shoulders where she stood and the receptionist and doorman looped their legs across the chefs body on either side of him and supported themselves by clinging to his shoulder. It wasn’t enough save the hotel though so Madame resorted to plan B: cause the banker to become drunk.
Whilst Madame served the banker drink after drink and fluffed up his ego, the maid started her own solo section which involved her speciality of trapeze. Her insane flexibility assisted her in contorting her body into incredible positions on her trapeze which resembeled a chandelier while still appearing poised and graceful at the same time. Some of the tricks she performed held an element of danger as she draped only one leg on the trapeze and swung about upside down. All of a sudden, from the very top of the building which was extremely high up, a small figure appeared and started to abseil down the building. A few moments later, a second figure emerged and followed and you could just tell that it was the doorman and chef, trying to impress the maid. As they scaled down the wall, they began to play wrestle each other and compete for the maid’s attention as she perched still as a mouse on her trapeze. Gradually, they travelled down until they reached the ground and Madame gathered all her employees to hatch part 2 of the new plan to save the hotel : they were going to steal the banker’s briefcase. Due to the fact he was already very drunk, Madame easily plucked the briefcase from his clutches and before he could snatch it back, she threw it across the room to one of her employees. It developed into a game of ‘pass the briefcase’ as the banker sprinted around the room, desperately seeking to reclaim his briefcase and the four employees blocked him in every way they could from reaching it. Eventually, the briefcase was carried back out of the hotel door and all of the cast followed it except for the receptionist. His solo section focused in on his speciality which was polework. Removing his suit jacket, he proceeded to climb to the very top of the pole, before sliding all the way down again and pausing just before he hit the ground. He also incorporated incredible but dangerous positions into his choreography and made it all look really easy.
Once the receptionist had finished his solo, the final clash between the banker and hotel staff began as the banker reappeared from the door, his green tie wrapped around his head closely, followed by all the staff. The hotel employees produced massive doors which they used to symbolise shields in the fight between them and the banker. Try as he might, the banker could not penetrate through their shields and as he circled them, they turned their shields around in synchronization to face him. As he charged at them again, they arranged themselves in a triangle shape so he was trapped inside with no escape. He was escorted back through the hotel door as Madame prepared for her solo act. She held two pieces of rope in her hands with balls attached on the end so they made a clicking sound as they whipped against the floor and wore tap shoes for added effect. She was madly skilled at synchronizing the pieces of rope to form a beat as they tapped against the floor in unison with her feet in her tap shoes. The final part of the performance required audience participation as the whole front row were invited to take a water balloon to lob at the banker as part of his punishment for attempting to claim Hotel Paradiso for himself.
Overall, I was really impressed with the amazing skills the whole cast possessed and their ability to convey the storyline with lots of facial expressions and barely any words. I would have loved to watch this performance again as I was thoroughly entertained the first time around.
Thank you for reading this blog post!! Do you have any unusual talents? Let me know in the comments!! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull