Brazil! Brazil!Southbank Centre, London
Wednesday 16 June 2010
Note the spelling: it may be written "Brasil" on the cast's football strips, but this show wants to explain its country to a British audience. Different numbers introduce ideas of Brazilian dance, music and football, with a laddish emphasis on the fighting origins of the dance capoeira and on the importance of the beautiful game. A large section of the audience, on this evidence, is keen for the men to take their shirts off. Both sides get what they want, in a cheerful and sometimes chaotic show.
Brazil! Brazil! is a celebration of the country, crammed into the Udderbelly. This festival venue, shaped like a big purple cow, has landed at the Southbank Centre for the summer. The stage is small, and crammed with percussion instruments; the five dancers still find room for capoeira, samba and spectacular acrobatics.
There are solemn introductions to each number, with some cheesy dramatics. But the dancers flip and ripple in this confined space, soaring fearlessly high. One man almost lands in the lap of a woman in the audience; he beams, hugs her and bounces back for some more jumps. One of these performers has broken records in backflips, able to turn 38 in 30 seconds.
The other star is Arthur Mansilla, who has astonishing football skills. He shakes the ball all over his body, diving to the floor and springing back up without losing control of it. In one magical sequence, Mansilla seems to keep the ball floating in the air, as he kicks delicately above and below it.
The framework of the show is a lot scrappier. The performers chat to us, mentioning the World Cup as often as possible and promising to meet England in the finale. The musicians are energetic and unsubtle, with a female vocalist changing from one gaudy outfit to another.
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