Christchurch, you must see this
REVIEW: Empire by Spiegelworld at Horncastle Arena, Tuesday, October 23.
Lining up to enter the world of Empire with a bottle of bubbles in my right hand and two plastic flutes in the other is a brilliant way to start an evening.
Loud music revs up the waiting audience while public service announcements remind you to "sit the f... down" so as not to spoil the view for others during the show.
Upon entering the impressive Spiegeltent, my companion says: "Wow. I don't feel like we're in Christchurch any more."
She's right. Think post-war France, the underground jazz clubs of a Great Gatsby era, Vaudeville and cabaret.
The tent is out of this world - wooden floors, stained glass windows, a bar and seating booths made out of antique wood.
Women in corsets and suspenders strut around provocatively and the kooky performers are already in show mode. A man rubs a carrot up my friend's leg while "strange Asian man with f..... up hair" asks an audience member to throw a tennis ball down his pants.
Empire, a production by United States company Spiegelworld, is unlike anything I've ever seen before.
It is a stunning tour de force that combines burlesque, gravity-defying stunts, dance, lights, bubbles, live music and bucketloads of talent.
The electric, sassy circus antics are spliced with moments of mesmerising beauty and physically impossible acts.
The show's comperes - Americans Jonathan Taylor and Anne Goldmann - are outrageous. A man named Chris, positioned in the front row firing line, was treated to 15 minutes of side-achingly funny humiliation topped off with a man's penis in his face. He took it like a trooper though and the audience loved him for it.
The show's tiny rotating circular stage sees it all - from sexily-dressed gymnasts busting out tricks to a roller skating duo and Zen master Memet Bilgin's ethereal and breathtaking final act.
The music is bang on - Muse, Leonard Cohen, Gotye - and the atmosphere is turbo-charged.
Christchurch, you must see this.