1 Jun 2024

Gandini Juggling, Smashed

Gandini Juggling presents a gloriously whimsical performance in Smashed - a masterpiece everybody should see!

Gandini Juggling in Smashed. © Ryoko UyamaGandini Juggling in Smashed. © Ryoko Uyama

Gandini Juggling
London, Peacock Theatre
31 May 2024

I’ve never seen Gandini Juggling before, and from the off, I have to say I’m smitten.

As editor of DanceTabs I ran five reviews of the company and yet somehow failed to get the message and see them. Now I’m kicking myself as only an enthusiastic new convert can. Goodness only knows if I will feel quite so strongly about the next Gandini work I see, but Smashed is a terrific show that would please Joe Public immensely (if only they knew in greater numbers) as well as resonating with those in the contemporary dance know.

To an eclectic soundtrack of hummable popular songs and Music Hall, Smashed has the subhead, You are cordially invited to a tea party that you will never forget…” While that is definitely true, my greater take is that this is a juggling homage to the world of Pina Bausch, and the opening track is Little Jack Little’s evocative (and so Bausch) I’ve Always Wanted To Waltz In Berlin. And as you would expect the seven men involved are of a certain age, dressed in lounge suits and ties, and the two women, of a certain age (forgive me), neatly turned out in black dresses, all ready for some strange Bauschian social event. In this case, it turns out to be juggling with apples, and while that is deeply impressive, what elevates it all is the weaving in of child-like human nature and flights of fancy. It’s a deliciously funny mix of petty jealousies, supportive cooperation, madcap slapstick and the outright surreal - I particularly loved seeing the men queue to be slapped by the woman in ever odder ways.

It’s a good-natured hour-long show and, towards the end, really delivers on the tea party you won’t forget’ headline as cups and teapots enter the juggling mix, apples are consumed and anarchy breaks out with everybody losing the juggling plot and a floor covered with their smashed collective failure. It takes a lot of professionalism to deliver something that appears so effortlessly spontaneous and good-natured, and Gandini has it in spades. Highly recommended, and if you can get to their final show of the run tonight, then you should - you won’t regret it.