Rhythms of an old-world trading port
This article is from 2013.
In case you were wondering about the meaning of this show's mysterious title, a giant picture of a ship bearing the words 'come buy on', (an invitation from English-speaking merchants to step aboard and trade) appears as part of a montage of seafaring footage at the start. Bathed in vintage-feel burnt copper lighting and set around sea trade ports, this exuberant (sometimes jaw-droppingly so) show has rhythm beating through its heart at every turn. Tap dancers pummel the boards of wooden crates; sailors chink and chime hanging green bottles; and vocal riffs are built up by idling traders, each singing a component part. Perhaps it's not surprising that the Catalan and Canarian company hails from regions of the same country that gave us flamenco; the cast are not oblivious to this comparison and take care to point it out during an intricate display of clapping. 'Flamenco', says one man, 'Espanisha', before another breaks into a virtuosic display of body percussion flourishing up and down his limbs.
It's this balance of wry humour and breathtaking skill, creativity and curiosity about the sound of things that ripples throughout Cambuyón and leaves you grinning in childlike wonder at each new innovation. Usually showstoppers are huge and outlandish but here Néstor Busquets playing the drums on a matchbox then striking his tiny sticks alight is a moment of pure originality.
Other highlights include Raúl Cabrera's a capella vocalisations of a muted trumpet, and Berta and Clara Pons' simmering duet of liquid body-popping moves with a North African flavour. But there are also quieter moments that stand out. The simple beauty of salt being poured in a spotlight followed by a mournful ballad demonstrate that the troupe is just as capable of bringing the dynamic down as stirring it up.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 26 Aug (not 13), 6pm, £15–£17.