Seven Deadly Stunts

26 November, Waipawa Municipal Theatre
By Ken Keys

The Show features husband and wife team, Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman, a.k.a. “Rollicking Entertainment”; a Christchurch couple, vastly experienced in the skills of: Circus; Carnival; Busking; and much more. They have performed at 50 Festivals in nine different countries, won numerous awards; their most famous shows being; “The Dunstan Creek Haunting” and “Mr and Mrs. Alexander”.

The blurb for this show: ”A nail-biting experience…7 of the most notorious stunts of all time!” And, so it was.

First, an inventive version of Russian Roulette, followed by a bare-footed Tollemache walking painstakingly (and, for us, painfully) over broken glass, culminating in her partner standing on her face.

Then, Ladderman with the chainsaw, the slicing of the apple held in his mouth, followed by, (for me, possibly the best part of the evening) an exceptional juggling act—–not balls, or swords, or fruit, but an apple, a heavy ten-pin bowling ball, and the aforesaid chainsaw!

Tollemache’s Houdini stunt (bound by chains, a strait-jacket and straps) was predictable, but none-the-less strenuously achieved and effected with dramatic aplomb.

More tense, I suspect, for the small but enthusiastic audience, was the Whipcracking Stunt (shades of the Wild West, Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane) with the prescribed female assistant holding the flower in her mouth to be slashed expertly in two by the whip.

After a magical-hand-piercing six-inch nail episode (perhaps the least effective of the stunts), the show climaxed, appropriately, with the duo’s Fire-Dance. This was not only very dangerous looking but visually powerful and tightly choreographed.

In summary, we had two very professional practitioners, at the top of their game, with wonderful voices and a strong stage presence. They mixed suitably dramatic tension with slick circus-style technique, humour, and effective audience interaction and involvement. From here, they move on to 42 further shows in 5 weeks, around the country. They deserve success…and certainly bigger audiences!

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