It’s been said that some of the most memorable gatherings happen in the warm confines of a bustling kitchen, the engaging mixture of aromas and stories satisfying our elemental desire for nourishment in the most literal and allegorical sense. So when the acrobatic troupe known as The 7 Fingers of the Hand set up its fully functional kitchen on the Granada stage for an evening of Cuisine & Confessions, the theater’s opulent environs were instantly transformed into an inviting and raucous dinner party for 1,500 of their closest Santa Barbara friends.
Sharing true and personal stories of love and loss, the artists chopped, sautéed, and tumbled their way around an impeccably designed set whose kitchen accessories seamlessly transitioned into apparatus (a checkered tablecloth repurposed as aerial fabrics) and manipulation objects (whisk-juggling, anyone?). In the banquine and risley sections (two highly technical acrobatic disciplines) the company’s accomplished efforts to humanize the herculean were on full display: Porters tossed and caught their flyers through fits of laughter in what felt less like an ancient circus act and more like a childhood game of tag.
The most affecting moment of the evening unfolded over an invented-language version of Ravel’s Boléro, commissioned to include inflections of African dialects — a nod to the international scope of the company’s cast. Through clouds of all-purpose flour, each artist took turns contorting words and limbs into physical and intimate monologues before collectively dashing over to the oven to pull out the pièces de résistance: fragrant loaves of banana bread to share with a ravenous audience.