Brazouka at New Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre’s antique and decadent interior may seem a strange choice for what is supposed to be an energetic and vibrant story from the streets of Brazil. As soon as the production gets going however, it’s clear that Arlene Philips and Pamela Stephenson’s Brazouka is less Brazil and more Strictly Come Dancing.
It’s the story of Braz dos Santos, a freestyle Lambada champion who manages to escape poverty through the power of dance. Braz plays himself and unfortunately, although the story has the potential to be interesting, his delivery is as interesting as the Rihanna-based soundtrack.
The most disappointing thing about the production is its inauthenticity. The choreography might be ok, but the pop-heavy score and the pantomime costumes have Arlene Philips stamped all over them. You don’t need to look at the brochure to guess that pretty much nobody in the artistic team is Brazilian aside from the performers.
The show is enjoyable for one reason only: the dancers are incredibly talented. Their energy and the choreography allow you to forget the rest of the problems and simply lose yourself in the music. There are a few stand-out scenes, such as a fight between the god of wind and the god of fire, where the dancers’ talent is truly entrancing.
Sadly, the sexualisation of women takes away somewhat from the quality of the dance. Obviously, in a Brazilian-themed dance show there is going to some sexualisation of women, but it’s actually the scenes that don’t seem Brazilian at all that are the most derogative. One scene where the women pop out of suitcases and act as human dolls to be manipulated by men slapping their bums is just unnecessary. The rest follows suit, with the women playing dead fish for the men to catch or prostitutes in a very glamorous brothel.
The dancing in this production is undeniably brilliant and some of the choreography works well, but it’s not an example of culture nor an engaging story of an escape from poverty. It blends an unbearable soundtrack with over-the-top costumes to create a production that, ultimately, is bland and commercial.
Brazouka is on at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 20th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Brazouka here: