You owe yourself a reward, and what better way to reward yourself than an evening with someone special at Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams at the V&A Waterfront; with the season now extended until January 2014. It seems that Cape Town will not let them go as the show has been here all year, playing to full houses. Housed in one of the last remaining mirror tents in the world, seating some 400 patrons each evening, Victoria is a magnificent twenty five metre velvet big top that has toured the globe for the last eighty years. Her ornate mirrored columns, rich velvet drapes and beveled booths transport one back to a by-gone era where cirque and magic ruled the world. Their website promises “a unique dinner cirque spectacular which enchants, captivates and inspires all who pass through her stained glass doors and enter her magical world.”
We had heard rave reviews of the show from friends and were keen to experience it for ourselves. On arrival at the tent, we were welcomed and shown to the bar for a pre-show drink and an opportunity to browse the collectibles on sale or have one’s face painted in keeping with the themes of the evening. There is plush seating in the foyer for those who arrive early with the entrance to the theatre guarded by 2 beautiful but immobile figures, setting the atmosphere of drama and suspense. There was an audible gasp of amazement when the doors opened and patrons were shown to their tables. Seating has been cleverly arranged so that everyone has a clear view of the stage, which runs down the middle of the tent- much like a fashion ramp- with the end being raised or revolving to suit the show and for effect. Since we had booked for only 2 of us, we expected to be seated at a larger, shared table but were surprised that tables are allocated according to the size of the group, and we were seated at a table for 2 right alongside the ramp with a close up of every part of the show. Larger parties are accommodated in booths at the side or at even larger tables behind the stage.
Madame Zingara promises to titillate the senses and that “The ingredients of our Magic will flavour your passion”. And they certainly made good on that promise. Once we were seated and offered a glass of wine from the very affordable wine list, an antipasti of hot and cold tasters kept us going as the theatre filled. It was a delicious assortment of Greek Meze dips; Humus, Taramasalata and Tzatziki, with a duo of soups and bread sticks, olives, brie cheese and nuts. This set the scene for a veritable feast of fine food for the eveing, amazingly served at speed, but beautifully prepared and served warm except, naturally, for the dessert. The show is slick, the service by beautiful young waitrons of both sexes speedy, but appearing to enjoy what they are doing, almost running to keep the patrons satisfied. A delicious prima course of mushroom filled ravioli drizzled with Truffle oil followed as the show commenced.
The mains offered choices including Lamb Shank and a vegetarian option but my wife chose the signature dish of beef fillet on a bed of rocket and field mushrooms with a sauce of dark Belgian chocolate, rosemary and a hint of chilli, while I thoroughly enjoyed black sesame crusted Norwegian salmon, served on wasabi mashed potato & wilted baby spinach, topped with lemon aioli, soy & squid ink reduction & ginger infused salsa fresca. The salmon was superb and as certainly as good as one would find in any top restaurant, while my wife was entranced by the chocolate chili fillet. The dessert is aptly titled “death by chocolate” and included a chocolate Tiramisu, chocolate nut brownies with Phyllo cigar and Gorgonzola ice cream.
While we enjoyed the food, we were enthralled, if not spellbound by the dazzling show by both local and imported entertainers. Awesome high wire acts alternated with side splitting comedy and sing along melodies. The Hot Mr C wheeling around on roller skate heels is the comedic MC and lead the show through it sequences with quirky anecdotes and hilarious asides.
Ziggy, the Mongolian princess contorts in amazing and unimaginable ways. The Gauchos Bollas act is a high energy classic South American ceremonial act which includes flamenco style dance while creating rhythm with bollas that are swung to beat the floor, accompanied by a double headed drum. Sam and Christine share the stage with their beautiful aerial chandelier act which is both captivating and ethereal. The Specifics comprising four super talented South African vocalists with an energetic stage presence, who bring back the most memorable of the old favourite hits, getting feet tapping and the party going. Christine’s unique wet aerial act left the audience gasping and ducking the splashes. The third act started with a splash, Sam showing a leg and then an arm in the bath, and got out of the bath, splashing her wet hair on the patrons seated around her and doing some acrobatic acts too. While she and the bath disappeared into the stage, the bath reappeared almost instantly, this time with Mr C, also having fun in the bath!
By the end of the show we had forgotten all thoughts of the world outside and were sorry that it was time to go home. This is a must see and enjoy.
Credits : since one is not allowed to photograph the acts during the show, we have used pics gleaned from the Madame Zingara website and Facebook page.