The Black Blues Brothers are billed as dance, physical theatre and circus, and I’d really take the emphasis off dance.
I enjoyed the show, with my concerns about trigger warnings pushed aside, but I’d describe it as a circus to the music of the Blues Brothers. I heard adults saying “Oh, no, no, no…” in response to the physical spectacle, worrying/hoping that an incredible stunt was about to be performed, which is a good sign.
So, trigger warnings. The show is rated for ages 0+, but there’s a strip tease. There’s even this cringe scene when one of the performers mimes not wanting to take his clothes off, so they’re bullied off him by a ring of physically strong men. The children watching laughed, but I had concerns for teens or anyone else in the audience who might have understandably unpleasant associations.
Does that feel too much of a thing to put aside and say, “But otherwise, I enjoyed the show”? Perhaps I’m making too much of a non-issue by overthinking it in my woke-brain (again)? I guess the important thing is to share my observation and let you make an informed decision on attendance.
The acrobatics of The Black Blues Brothers
There’s a framing device wherein the brothers should be cleaning up at a restaurant or hotel but get distracted by the music. The boss character occasionally surfaces to be the theatre villain.
Once stripped down to their suspender support trousers, the acrobatics displayed by the troupe get steadily more progressive. There are towers of carefully balanced performers, all supported by a single figure. People leap through hoops at speed and with impressive coordination. I swear the skipping rope was real, yet the Black Blues Brothers bounce, perform and otherwise dance over it as if it were imaginary.
Audience participation happens twice. On one occasion, in the show I went to, a small gaggle of kids are brought up to the (strip-show safely consigned to history) stage to have a go at the limbo bar. Later (kids nearly safely off the stage), that bar is set aflame.
My favourite act was when the Black Blues Brothers pulled a young woman from the stage and then proceeded to fight (bully each other) and woo her. It could have been awkward, but our audience member stole the show. I wondered whether she was a plant, but I don’t think your instructions to a plant would be “ham it act and steal attention from the act”, and there were times when giant fake flowers were thrust at her at such a speed it made her jump.
So, our brave hero from the audience danced across the stage, caught and blew kisses back at the performers, played along and brought a sparkle to the whole act.
Going to see The Black Blues Brothers was a last-minute decision, and I couldn’t even articulate why I picked the show. I guess I’m trying to be as broad as possible this year.
I’m glad I made this last-minute decision, though. Yes, I harboured concerns about trigger warnings but surrounded by laughter, kids chatting and gasping adults, my sense was my audience enjoyed the show.
Surrounded by an audience enjoying the acrobatic circus, I could also settle down and enjoy the physical spectacle. These Royal Variety Performance veterans’ strength, agility, and speed are intimidatingly impressive.
The Black Blues Brothers