La Cucina Dell'Arte

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am

Studio Theatre

Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Reviewed: March 3

Performer David Ronaldo writes that he doesn't like to work 'with things that are specially made for the programme'. He prefers to do his circus comedies with every-day objects such as 'a pot, a pan, things you've found'.

That's what La Cucina Dell'Arte, a hilarious and edgy troupe comprising Ronaldo and his brother Danny (right), are all about. (Their real names are David and Daniel van den Broeck).

The hour-long performance follows a muttering kitchen assistant and a head chef as they prepare dinner in their Italian restaurant. While the chef - played by David - struts about the stage and boasts about his cooking (in Italian), the kitchen assistant continually frustrates and upstages him with physical antics and asides to the audience.

What makes this more than a goofy comedy, however, is that the show rests firmly on those real things: pots, plates, candles, rolling pins, wine bottles, tomatoes and pliable pizza dough. This sense of realness extends to the gritty restaurant. From the 19th-century kitchen barrow that holds everything from an accordion to a dead fish, to Danny's flour-stained apron, the brothers put real life on stage and make it a performance.

This is a rare combination for two men who are so clearly talented in physical theatre. From the opening scene, the seemingly unco-ordinated kitchen helper continuously surprises with his balancing, juggling and taunting of audience members.

La Cucina Dell'Arte isn't a big show full of daring feats and big sound. At times, it even drags a little. But that matters little. It's nice to laugh, be surprised and see reality made a little bit extraordinary.