Festival Review

Kungfu Revelations – 9 Scrolls People's Republic of China Israel Festival, June 1; The Forman Brothers Obludarium Israel Festival, June 1.

Forman Brothers 370 (photo credit: Irena Vodakova)
Forman Brothers 370
(photo credit: Irena Vodakova)
The essence of kung fu, we are told, is morality, energy, harmony. Throughout each of its nine scenes, the young artists of this PRC dance theater company demonstrate these tenets, as well as Liu Zhen’s spectacular choreography, with a dazzling virtuosity.
Purity, diligence, devotion and serenity are among the nine attributes (scrolls) of kungfu that the devotee learns to master. Wearing different and attractive costumes for each scroll, the actor-dancers use a variety of props and set pieces to illustrate its precepts, among them tables, food bowls, orange paper parasols and moving bamboo glades.
Among the soloists, 12-yearold Bao Tianyu has an impressive presence. Moreover, like the boy he still is, he allows his mischievous self to peek out often. Indeed, there are welcome flashes of an impish humor in a work that otherwise takes itself seriously. Fluid and lyrical, Kungfu Revelations demonstrates that martial arts are a spiritual discipline as well.
The Forman Brothers Obludarium Israel Festival, June 1
Billed as a circus cabaret, the Forman Bothers’ Obludarium, seems to be a parody of the real thing. Performers and “officials” alike are dressed in tawdrily shiny or shabby, much-mended costumes. The “artistes” aren’t that skilled. It’s all a bit like a provincial circus that has seen better days.
Conjecturing from there, perhaps it’s society that has seen better days.
Squashed side by side on two tiers of uncomfortable benches, the audience must endure about 35 minutes of near-total darkness at the start of this two-hour-plus show, in which the performers are lit only fitfully. Not that the lighting gets much better throughout.
This “circus” combines the usual circus acts – the bareback rider, the flying trapeze, dressage by a life-size and impressive puppet “horse” – with carnival sideshows, such as the bearded lady, the circus strongman and Punch and Judy.
Unfortunately it’s all rather tediously tongue-in-cheek.
The only truly enjoyable – not to mention funny – act is a running gag involving three bewildered ancients, or so imply the oversize, garishly colored puppet heads the performers wear, trying to get away from their lugubrious keeper, who himself introduces them in an incomprehensible mutter.