★★★ | Smashed by Gandini Juggling, Udderbelly, London

A mix of circus and theatre, inspired by the work of choreographer Pina Bausch, Smashed is a series of nostalgic filmic scenes exploring conflict, lost love and quaint afternoon tea.

After a day hard at work, an hour of juggling felt like a daunting prospect for me and I imagined it could become tedious after the first 15 minutes, picturing tired old Covent Garden street performers. I was wrong, however, as Smashed is more of a tongue in cheek, contemporary dance show with a lot of juggling and a hell of a lot of apples. At times surreal and absurdist, at others cheesy and at others bizarre yet comical, this is quite a fun show. The troupe has awesome timing and is eminently skillful. As a person who can barely catch one ball or walk straight, I have to admire anyone who can juggle, never mind some of the mind bending routines involving weaving in and out, shared juggling and cross over hands. I won’t spoil the surprises by revealing the full repertoire. Whilst this may not suit everyone’s tastes due to its absurdist and darkly camp nature, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The venue is a rare treat too: a giant inflatable, purple, upside-down cow on The Southbank? What’s not to like?

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The line-up for this year’s Udderbelly Festival is varied as usual and the amazing Speigeltent (a vintage wooden, mirrored tent that has hosted Marlene, Judy and Noel Coward to name but a few) lands in May with a stunning line-up of cabaret, burlesque, comedy and more. It’s well worth checking out and the line-up includes Limbo (the show so fantastic that Madonna saw it twice), the hilarious Zoe Lyons and Tina C, Burlesque from House of Burlesque and The Black Cat Cabaret and the indescribably brilliant boy-lesque of Briefs.

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http://smashedjuggling.com/ runs till 8th of May 2014
Explore the Udderbelly program through till the 13th of July https://www.underbelly.co.uk/udderbelly-festival-at-southbank-centre
Explore the London Wonderground program from 7th of May through to the 28th of September 2014 here: https://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/

About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.