Reviewer: David Sedgwick
They huff and they puff with all their might, but at the end of the day don’t quite manage to blow the walls off Liverpool’s Echo Arena. The all-whoopin’ all-wigglin’ Harlem Globetrotters certainly give it full pelt though. And some more.
Half empty or half full stadiums – depending on your point of view – are never a good sign. In a football-mad nation such as the UK, sports like basketball can seem a minority interest. The special relationship, it seems, does not always appear to stretch as far as leisure pursuits.
When the core of the show is a sport, then there are artistic decisions to be made which do not face a gig or theatre show. Predictably the Globetrotters go for the comedy route. They take on a World All-Stars team a fairly non-descript bunch clad appropriately in black. It’s a case of the good guys and bad guys. Indeed at one point the ‘trotters emerge be-masked as er…spiderman and friends.
Actually the opposition turn out to be rather adept. It’s a case of more than a little brilliance being required to play the stooges so well. Thus the Globetrotters run rings around their opponents, mostly. But here’s the rub: The World All-Stars, at times, score with impunity. Yes it’s all part of the show, but the Harlem halo can’t help but suffer somewhat
All this to a thumping, pumping rock n’ house music back-track and a fevered commentary that only the Americans can do. It sure is a hectic ol’ affair. Not least thanks to a pair of mascots, the fluffy Globie and his more sinister older sibling Mr G who has a penchant for slam-dunking himself with frightening force onto the floor. Ouch! That’s gotta hurt.
It’s pure bubble-gum, essentially a pantomime and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Number 12 Trotter ‘Ant’ is a born showman – a puckish Lord of Misrule comfortable whether it’s YMCA dancing or swinging from the hoops.
There’s a good show lurking here somewhere. It’s just a case of tweaking this special brand of mid-Atlantic razzmatazz for UK taste-buds. The walls would then almost certainly stand a much better chance of tumblin’ down.
UK Tour runs until April 16th