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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Production let down by technical aspects. (Review by Keith Millar)

Durban has a brand spanking new Ice Arena. After a 20 month up-grade the new multi-purpose arena, which is four times the size of the old ice rink, opened in September.

This was the venue, last weekend, for the ice show, Shine on Ice Dance Theatre, which was visiting our shores direct from Moscow, Russia.

There was much excitement about the return of an Ice Show to Durban by people who fondly remember the many ice spectaculars produced by Marjorie Chase in years gone by.

These fabulous shows were a staple part of the city’s Christmas festivities. Usually presented in the form of a pantomime they featured the best of international and local skating talent. They also starred the inimitable Grahame Rich as the dame, or an ugly sister. A superb physical comedian, Rich would always have his chest considerably enhanced by a pair of balloons which would inevitably pop, to great hilarity, when he fell to the floor. The shows were fantastic family entertainment and eagerly anticipated all.

In light of this, it is a great pity that Shine on Ice turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It was billed to be a combination of master figure-skating as well as the skills of acrobats, jugglers, clowns and ice ballet dancers. Well, it did have all of this, but the skill levels were questionable.

The first time we were treated to a gentle pas da deux it was very exciting despite not being as dramatic as one is used to see on TV. In fact, it initiated several spontaneous outbreaks of applause from the audience.However when what seemed to be the same routine was repeated again and again it all started to get a little boring.

The clowns were quite funny, particularly the musical one who played Ave Maria on a saw with a violin bow and Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance on wine bottles. The jugglers, acrobats and arial acts were all entertaining without being mind-blowing.

However, it was the technical aspects of the production which really let it down. The lighting was restricted to a few footlights and two follow spots - one of which was not even used in the second half of the show. The operator was there, staring intently at his cellphone, but he either forgot to do his job or his light was kaput. This was in fact a blessing as the two spotlights was positioned far too low and blinded the audience as often as they lit the performers.

As one can imagine, the artists were not well lit and the audience had to squint through the gloom to see what was going on.

The sound system installed in the arena seems quite good. However, they have not overcome the dreadful acoustic and the result was an indistinct and booming sound.

One could possibly blame teething problems for these difficulties. However, I cannot believe that in Durban there is not the expertise to assist with finding solutions. One can only hope that if future ice shows are presented in Durban, these experts will be consulted. Anything else is disrespectful to the paying audience.

On the positive side the costumes worn by the performers of Shine on Ice were spectacular, inventive and a joy to behold. It was just a pity that there wasn’t more light available to see them by. – Keith Millar