MATADOR - Riverside Theatre, Parramatta (NSW)
Performed by Bass Fam Creative. Presented during Sydney WorldPride as part of Pride Amplified.
Reviewed by Juliana Payne
National Theatre of Parramatta
Playing until Sunday 26th February, 2023
- Matador is colourful, sexy and energetic, making for a perfect way to celebrate Sydney WorldPride -
Bass Fam Creative treat their audience to a wonderful dream that meshes Carmen, MTV, ballet and aerial acts into a colourful, sexy and energetic performance. There’s a lot of raunchy shows out there at the moment, not the least because Sydney WorldPride is in the air, and it shows just how much audiences love the skills, bodies and costumes of this particular genre.
Matador lives up to its promise of being bigger, bolder and sexier – sixteen taut and terrific dancers have the audience whooping and hollering from the get-go. The tempo only slows from time to time to enable a more balletic duet or trio to take centre stage and then it’s back to the high-energy stuff at 180 bpm.
Photo Credit: Ben Vella
Broadly structured around the Carmen-like themes of passion, jealousy and unrequited love, this show is an unstoppable series of dance styles and breathtaking aerial acts – with no nets! The music is a wide-ranging collection of seat-bopping styles, from flamenco to classical, to MTV R&B. Each piece tells a story of love, passion, loss, joy and anguish. Some nice queer plots broke the ice on the traditional hetero love stories and shake up the audience’s expectation. While this is a great showcase of dance styles, and the undoubted skills of the young performers, the writers may like to think about having a bit more of a structured plot to integrate the individual pieces – which would really take it to a new level – lifting it from its current ‘cabaret’ style.
The costumes are stunning – from the eye-popping Spanish reds and blacks, the flowing chiffon of the ballet numbers, and the kinky BDSM themed straps and whips – it’s a joyous eclectic mix that makes for a gorgeous stage presence. Sometimes there is almost too much going on, with an aerial act above and multiple dancers on stage – you’re not sure where to look!
The tempo only slows from time to time to enable a more balletic duet or trio to take centre stage and then it’s back to the high-energy stuff at 180 bpm.
The lighting is fine, the sound is great, and the energy is infectious – the audience were clapping and seat-dancing spontaneously. The multi-level stage is well-used to bring dynamism to the choreography and the thrust stage enabled a bit of unexpected audience participation as they are enveloped in a flowing costume or touched by the dancers whooshing by.
Two of the young male dancers looked remarkably like Sergei Polunin, the firebrand young dancer who burned brightly and briefly at the Royal Ballet – he did one final self-choreographed modern dance to Take Me to Church and the performers in Matador had that same look and feel. They topped off a night that is engaging, enjoyable and a heap of fun.
MATADOR 2023 CAST AND CREW
Mario Acosta - Cevallos
Emily - maree Brazier