Smashed

If you have any preconceived notions of what a juggling show ought to be, you should probably drop them here. Smashed is unlike any juggling show I would have expected. Indeed, it’s barely even a juggling show - although the skill displayed is second to none. The juggling is a springboard for these nine performers to explore the boundaries between patterns and disorder, composure and insanity, juggling, theatre and dance, using 80 apples and a lot of teacups.

Sections of the performance were hilarious, but Smashed is not just a funny show. It pays homage to dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch; the opening sequence involves a line of performers in formal dress stepping in time to music hall song, flashing comic expressions at the audience. Less fun than this arch display of skill, but equally Bausch-inspired, are the sinister tones of the performers’ relations to one another, often explored through gender imbalances. The two women of the troupe attempt a simple juggling routine and are interrupted by gangs of men taking away their agency, forcing them to move without autonomy. Next, the women stuff apples in their mouths and lower themselves on all fours to crawl, gagged, before a line of men making frantic patterns with apples on their backs. The soundtrack is Stand By Your Man.

Such serious stuff is punctuated by a mad hatter-esque tea theme. One performer delivers a maniacal monologue about English tea-time (this was supposed to be light-hearted, I am later told, though I found it terrifying). When the meaning of the production’s name finally comes clear, it is glorious to behold. The performers smash everything with reckless abandon: they even begin to eat their apples, chomping as they juggle, until the juice dribbles down their chin.

The nasty elements are still there, though; we see them jeering at each other, humiliating and humiliated, willing one another to drop their apples, and then wilfully dropping things. Soon chaos reigns, and everything is smashed. Finally, among the rubble, the opening sequence is played out, and, gingerly, they start again from the beginning, deftly stepping around the debris on the floor and smiling sheepishly at the audience.

There is never a quiet moment in this production. The mood is by turns sweet, funny and menacing; the juggling extraordinarily skilful. If you’re not prepared for it, it can get a bit incomprehensible at times (exploring misogyny through juggling? Who knew) but at no point is this performance anything other than thoroughly engaging.

Reviews by Charlotte Goodman

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Smashed. 9 jugglers, 80 apples, 4 crockery sets. A sensational mix of skill and theatricality inspired by the work of Pina Bausch. A series of nostalgic filmic scenes exploring conflict, tense relationships, lost love and quaint afternoon tea.

Most Popular See More

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets