Shaolin Monks was great. A mixture between Martial arts prowess, energetic dance and stagemanship; it was a Martial arts circus. Definitely something to see (I could add the nauseating: for the whole family). There were spectacular shows of well-practiced moves, the circus-element of brick-breaking and balancing on sharp spikes seemed to appeal to the younger audience and there were moments when the cartwheels and rolling on stage held a striking resemblance to Breakdance.
The highlight of the show was a double-act by two very young boys - they looked like they were under 7 years old, but their size might have been misleading. They effortlessly sparred, skipped and hopped through complicated Kung-Fu moves with the sort of ease that usually follows years and years of tireless practice. Watching them was like an optical illusion that made the audience gasp time and time again; it was like watching miniature adults.
We did notice one thing - the audience was completely different from the last Sadler's Wells production we went to see. Yes, lots of families, but also people who looked like they'd never set foot in a theatre before. Many people arriving really late. Or talking during the performance. I don't care if it's your first time when you're 48 years old, but you could at least observe some polite common sense rules on how to conduct yourself.
Perhaps that's harsh. But seriously. Granted, not everyone was taken to their first concert/opera/theatre performance at under 5 years old, taught to sit still and focus, taught to figure out the plot of an opera sung in another language from looking through the programme booklet, but I do idly wonder whether common sense about certain things has to be taught too. Is common sense something you can, or have to teach?
It seems that many Finns still value opera, classical music and the theatre in the sort of way I was used to. In that you don't have to be wealthy, or in any kind of particular social class to take yourself (and your kids) off to see the latest production of The Magic Flute. At least that's the impression I get from the delightful film "Pelikaanimies" (Pelican Man), a film we watched yesterday. I bought it on our Finnish trip this summer, but we hadn't got around to watching it until now. Pelican Man is a simple, but delightful fantasy aimed at children, but entirely watchable by adults. One day a pelican decides to turn himself into a human by landing on a beach and putting on human clothes. The film explores human perception, what it's like to be an adult and what it's like to be a little boy whose parents have just divorced. There is lovely Finnish scenery and a beautiful feel to the whole film.