Chloe & I got in the taxi and headed off at around 6:50pm - it was starting in 40 minutes, and we were as keen as beans to get there. We went with Suburban Taxis. Again. I keep making this crucial mistake, time and time again, because it's so easy to remember 131 008 and so hard to remember how many times this company has fucked up a simple car journey for us.
I don't know why I bother saying on the phone to all of the taxi phone operators where I'm going - "I'd like a taxi from Klemzig to Thebarton Theatre". Inevitably, when the taxi arrives the driver has no clue about my destination; and I have to retell my story. Normally, I don't mind. But if you throw in the heaviest Indian accent you can imagine and add some mumbling; you begin to get an idea of how hard communication gets.
Further, it's really fucking difficult to get your destination across when the driver doesn't even know where your destination is; and you have to get out his streetmap and circle it for him.
Eventually, somehow, we got there. I swore never to use them again - but I know we will. It's something you just can't fight.
We finally get inside and get directed to our seats - only we spot the bar and decide a drink is in order.
You'd have thought that the theatre could have gotten a slightly bigger range than one beer of the light and one of the not-as-light varieties; but at least it wasn't terrible beer.
We traipse up to our seats; Chloe remarking "how we must have gotten some really good ones to be going upstairs". At this point, I debate on wheter I should point out that we are infact in row V, and row V is way, way at the back. It's so far back, infact, that the theatre hadn't sold all of the seats they obviously expected to, and had brought large bits of black cloth over all the rows higher than M.
Row V didn't exist. We got shifted forward, to M, but we were still the furthest away from the performers it is physically possible to be. I told myself to be patient, because soon I would see something awesome. I would see the things you'd expect from kung fu movies, but this would be real. I'd see people doing scary things with swords, I'd see people narrowly avoiding death with a well placed flip, I'd see people punching their way through extraordinarily large pieces of wood for no apparent reason except to say 'I'm an awesome monk of supreme realness' - wouldn't I? (below)
The house lights went down, the seriously bad mix tape from China cranked up at full volume, and the drunk on the spotlight kicked it into gear. There they were! Only, rather than kicking their way out of something, or doing a billion flips, or whatnot, they were doing what I can only describe as a whole lot of ponce.
Ponce. That about sums it up. Ponce. Now let's clarify this: I can put up with a lot of ponce so long as I get my death dealing sword swinging moments of "holy shit did he just do that"? So I sat. Then I waited. Then I squirmed. The ponce continued.
Finally, something made my awesometer twitch when one of the tiny monks did a series of cartwheels using only his head. Only a little twitch though, because the amount of ponce had seriously done some huge damage to them.
Then, with a ghastly shreik of how not to please your audience's ears, they had a bit of a break for a 20 minute inteval.
20 minutes elapse: I manage to spend $23 at a service station in 39 seconds flat on icecream. I was having a severe WTF over the one too, but I now had Supreme Doubts about any ability to kung fu my way out of the situation, so I just meekly ate my icecream.
The second half was better. They had a contortionist or two, who did something a little like this:
... and then they busted out the swords n stuff.
Notable moments of awesome:
- I saw a pint sized monk climb on his staff - as in the staff is underneath him, and he's balanced ontop. Awesome rating of 5 or so, because he only did it once and for half a second.
- I saw a guy prepare lunch on his stomach by chopping a whole lot of food with a cleaver. He did it more than once and we didn't see guts come out. Let's give that a 6.
- Three guys cranked out the dual Chain Whips and there was much spinning happening. They managed to spin one above their heads, and one under them while seated. That's right, seated. They leapt (somehow) sufficiently high for the chain to pass under them. A clear 8.
- They hit one guy in the stomach with a big assed battering ram. Looked faked. 3.
- They picked a guy up; then balanced him on spearpoints. 7, but he only did it for a moment and wussed out.
- They broke numerous bits of staff, bamboo, etc over each other's body parts.
- Too many 'fight' scenes would have the monk duck first then the swing of the sword, fist, etc. -3.
- At the end, all of the monks lay down like a row of firecrackers, and one of them rolled under all of the others. They leapt like a mexican wave. 8, for coordination.
I know you have to cut them some slack - they do this as a way of life. But as a way of life, they should have gotten their shit together a little better.
I wouldn't be so angry, either, but the TV and brochures had only the snappy bits of everything shown - monks doing this, monks doing that, monks scoring a million billion awesome points with death defying abilities.
They should have looked like this.
What I missed, what everyone missed, was this telling description from the venuetix site:
Twenty-four authentic Shaolin Temple warrior monks from the original Shaolin monastery in Henan present the Legendary Masters of Kung-Fu spectacular. Acclaimed across the globe, the Shaolin Warriors captivate and amaze as they display an awe-inspiring combination of martial arts, contortion, acrobatics and incredible athletic skills as they weave an enchanting storyline that reflects their ancient philosophy and traditions. Shaolin Warriors Legendary Masters of Kung-Fu is more than a kung fu show. The four scenes of summer, autumn, winter and spring depict the philosophical theory of the life cycle of Buddhism and vividly show the rarely-seen temple like of Shaolin monks; their Buddhist meditation, as well as their martial arts training during the coldest and hottest times of the year
So what it was in reality was something like this:
"Let's Play Pattycake"