Circus Ronaldo Big Top, Aotea Square, Auckland

02/03/2016 - 20/02/2016

Auckland Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

“two expert clowns, and many laughs” – The Guardian, UK

In a nutshell:
Juggle-able food / Melancholy and hilarious chaos / My Kitchen does not Rule

La Cucina dell’Arte beckons us to peep through a keyhole into the world’s worst restaurant and open the doors to a topsy-turvy, pizza-flipped joint where servants become masters, candles and crockery take on lives of their own and spoons play a tarantella on wine bottles.

Circus Ronaldo dish up simple, romantic, commedia dell’Arte that’ll tickle you pink. The sixth generation of a renowned Belgian circus family, Danny and David Ronaldo have charmed audiences across the globe with their masterful blend of comedy, theatre and tricks always performed in their gorgeously petite big top tent. The brothers throw elements of Carlo Goldoni, Federico Fellini, vaudeville and belly-aching slapstick into their mix for a night of laughter, fun and inventive theatre you can’t help but devour.

Embrace the chaotic service at La Cucina dell’Arte and it’ll put a smile on your dial.

Venue Circus Ronaldo Big Top, Aotea Square
Wed 2 – Sunday 20 March, 2016 (various times)
Price $39 – $59
Duration 1hr 10mins no interval
Recommended for ages 10+ 

Masterclass for professional actors with Danny Ronaldo – Click HERE

Theatre , Clown , Circus ,

1hr 10mins, no interval

Farcical fare hits the spot

Review by Nik Smythe 03rd Mar 2016

A potential drawback to these fabulous festivals we love so much is that with parking at a premium, one can get fairly frazzled just trying to get to the show on time.  My own experience getting to Belgian brothers Danny and David Ronaldo’s outstanding slapstick spectacle became a bit of a clown act in itself, fortunately with no audience to revel in voyeuristic delight at my retrospectively laughable predicament. 

Eventually arriving one minute late, I at least had the ten-minute shutout time to catch my breath and compose myself for the task at hand before being escorted in, to another place and time beneath the cloth ceiling and opulent chandelier of the nostalgically old-world Circus Ronaldo big top.  Chided in passing by the performers tapping their watch, I take a less-than-ideally positioned seat and start to relax, and catch up on the ensuing antics.

Fortunately the premise and narrative, such as it is, is simple enough to grasp effortlessly. Two men painstakingly endeavour to set up an eat-in pizzeria. There’s the ‘serious’ long-suffering boss man with the beard and ponytail wearing a black waistcoat, and his blundering subordinate in the floppy hat with the bowtie, braces and baggy pinstripes. And then, as chef and waiter, they treat a debatably lucky pair of punters to an impromptu date on stage.   

The circus-ring stage is three quarters surrounded by a full house audience.  In front of the classic sumptuous red velvet curtain, an impressively splendiferous olden-day wheeled carriage houses most of the accoutrements needed for their industrious enterprise.  It also holds an ingenious automated accordion, tambourine and bottle-xylophone music player, churning out comical tunes as the situation most definitely demands. 

Soon, but not too soon of course, with red-checked tablecloths, Chianti bottle candles, price-displaying blackboards et al in place, the boys are open for business.  Said pair of inaugural patrons is recruited and so begins the hilariously arduous task of wining and dining them. 

The first snag concerns a double-up of chosen females, having picked one each, the winner being decided by a simple sleight-of-hand test, the result of which reverberates throughout the remaining performance.  From here the action, absurdity and absolute disarray rises steadily by way of supreme slapstick and outstanding acrobatics.  Highlights include some incredible dough-swirling, a thrilling juggling act on a rolo-bolo ‘improvised’ from an oversized rolling pin and a giant pizza spatula, and the heart-stoppingly precarious climactic plate-spinning act. 

It’s no surprise – expected even – that the basis of the performance involves a great deal of interaction, not only with the on-stage couple and others addressed directly, but also with the general audience, being continually at risk of getting in the way of a flying pizza base, or other food items. 

Both men speak ninety percent gibberish (I think) interspersed with occasional recognisable Italian words like ‘presto!’, ‘momento’, ‘calzone’ etc, and just a couple in English.  The boss talks with a dry, authoritative mutter compared to his underling’s ingenuous continual whine that recalls the drawn character in the classic 70s Italian animated series La Linea

The intriguing thing about clown, in all its associated forms, is the way it defies conventional wisdom that humour should not be predictable.  While there are numerous unexpected surprises to delight one and all throughout these intrepid would-be restaurateurs’ increasingly chaotic misadventures, the biggest laughs tend to arise when we get precisely what we saw coming a mile away. 

Either as an enhancement to a lazy evening in the delightfully appointed Aotea Square Festival Garden, or a mood-changing pick-me-up at the end of a trying day, the farcical fare of the Ronaldo brothers’ culinary comedy absolutely hits the spot.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council