BWW Reviews: ROBIN COUSINS' ICE, Bristol Hippodrome, April 30 2014
I have spent a lot of time at the Bristol Hippodrome over the last couple of years and have seen a range of productions there, but never one on ice. The gentle sounds of Arctic winds met me as I entered the auditorium, and I felt instantly relaxed and ready for an evening of entertainment.
Billed as 'skating like you've never seen before', ICE was more a blend of Holiday on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing with a soupçon of Cirque Du Soleil. The first thing that struck me as the curtain rose was how small the rink was, and this initially made me feel rather uncomfortable. In such a small space, I really felt for the performers having to execute complicated tricks and leaps in such a limited area, and I frequently found myself cringing. However, this did add to the 'danger factor' of the evening.
The show begins at a slow pace, but soon ramps up to include all the tricks and spins the audience expect to see. The choreography showed off the grace, elegance and strength of the skaters, with the outstanding Lisa Mochizuki mesmerising the audience with her beautiful routine in the first act. Vaughn Chipeur was clearly a favourite of the Bristolian crowd, as his cheeky-chappy routine was met with a round of whoops and cheers. Although his solo routine wasn't my favourite of the evening, Chipeur certainly delivered on the tricks, performing an array of leaps including an extremely impressive flip.
For me, one of the loveliest routines of the evening was More Than Words, performed beautifully by Lisa Brewin and Oscar Peter. Brewin brought an element of grace to the piece, while Peter demonstrated fluidity, power and a hint of street smarts. Another favourite was Brandee Malto, who got toes tapping and pulses racing. The accompanying soundtrack was varied, ranging from swelling instrumental pieces to a jazzed-up version of a Lady Gaga number, and while I enjoyed many of the pieces, not all were to my taste.
A few circus acts are dotted about the evening, with Kate Endriulaitis performing a string of impressive and sometimes heart-stopping aerial manoeuvres above the ice. There were a few moments of excessive cheesiness throughout the show, but these were cancelled out by the appearance of the infamous bounce spin or 'headbanger' on a couple of occasions, which drew a series of gasps, squeals and hidden faces from the audience.
Overall, I enjoyed my evening at ICE, often finding myself being drawn in by the elegance and talent of the skaters, but I wouldn't say that the show was quite as spectacular as I had expected. I put that down to the staging and, on occasion, song choice. However, if you enjoy figure skating and fancy a nice evening out that includes several heart-in-throat moments, then head on down to the Bristol Hippodrome where ICE runs until Saturday 3 May.