This mesmerising show never fails to surprise with its energy and variety of martial arts techniques on display.
With spectacular fight sequences and precise choreography, Soul of Shaolin is a show unlike any other that you will see in London at the moment and is as mesmerising as it is entertaining to watch.
Set in China, the story begins with Hui Guang being separated from his mother but rescued by the monks of Shaolin Monastery and trained in the ancient art of Kung Fu. Yet when his mother unexpectedly re-enters his life, Hui Guang must overcome obstacles to be reunited with her.
Playing in London for the very first time and performed at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Soul of Shaolin is an extraordinary piece of theatre – excellent in the way it uses its storytelling techniques through movement and impressively detailed projections used in the background that keep the audience thoroughly immersed in the plot that unfolds with great pace.
With a focus on the use of martial arts, the cast are equally impressive in their technique, stamina and energy – leading to some particularly dazzling moments, such as when Hui Guang has to overcome a series of challenges in the second act as well as an impressively choreographed street fight scene that compliments their abilities. The younger cast members also stand out for the way in which their technique and self-confidence in their performances shines completely through – making them seem older than their years.
While for the most part the show moves from one location to the next seamlessly, the subtitles at the beginning of each scene explaining the story seem to disappear quite quickly leaving the audience having to guess about the next part of Hui Guang’s journey. This in turn means it can feel as though there are some gaps in the plot.
The music used throughout, while recorded, is suitably dramatic enough to enhance the story and thrilling choreography – yet there are the occasional moment when it threatens to overpower what the audience is seeing, such as the tenderness of when Hui Guang is reunited with his mother.
This being said, this is still a thrilling and fascinating watch – a show that constantly keeps the audience in suspense about what is going to happen next. Everything is perfectly synchronised and imaginatively presented. It is certainly worth a watch.
By Emma Clarendon
Soul of Shaolin continues to play at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre until the 6th October.