Traditional African Acrobatics by Fanti Acrobatics was a show which left me upbeat yet intensely frustrated.
With no real stage to work with, nor any lights or curtain, the show was hampered at every turn.
Apart from the performers themselves, everything about this work felt unprofessional and under rehearsed. Performing in the lobby of the Thistle Hotel, the entertainers had to struggle to keep the audience’s attention from the distractions of luggage porters and wedding parties. With no real stage to work with, nor any lights or curtain, the show was hampered at every turn.
Yet, while the acrobats were actually performing they were exciting, engaging and well rehearsed. I myself was dragged on stage to partake in some back breaking limbo routines, along with a couple other audience members. Their fiery tricks had children (and myself) gasping with horror. The contortionists also made them whoop and clap with excitement.
Their impressive performances were let down, however, by a compère who spoke with no prepared lines, little authority and for far too long. His closing speech went on for many minutes and while it was intended to draw out our applause for the performers it simply made the show feel less impressive than it was. Instead of ending on a dramatic acrobatic finale the show whimpered to a halt as the emcee waffled on, leaving his audience unsure whether to depart or stay seated.
In addition to the poor compère the music also cut out at certain points, adding to the shabbiness of the performance as a whole. But it is the producers of the show, not the performers, who are responsible for this shabbiness, and they are the ones I would criticise. The acrobats were, in truth, let down by the choice of venue, scripting and rehearsal. Yet, of course it was the same performers who managed to entertain in these less ideal conditions, and for that I commend them.
In a way, Traditional African Acrobatics felt much like a rough diamond. The acrobatics were a treat for all ages, yet sadly, the show's producers really let it down.