10 January 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Madame Zingara's Theatre of Dreams

On Friday morning I was watching a pack of wild dogs on the road between Orpen and Satara camps in the Kruger National Park. On Friday night, I was watching world-class performers sparkle and spin their way around a velvet-lined tent at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg at Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams.

As with all of life’s most beautiful contrasts, the one experience enhanced the other and I felt like I had undergone an ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ transformation when I stepped into Madame Zingara’s warm, whimsical and yes - wild - Theatre of Dreams.

Madame Zingara’s is an “enthralling travelling dinner cirque extravaganza housed in one of the last remaining antique mirror tents in the world”.  Under the creative guidance of Richard Griffin, the set for this fantasy dining and entertainment experience daringly combines the burlesque with the phantasmagorical.

A range of characters parade through the tables in between acts, indulging your imagination as much as your palate as they serve up a menu that features fresh tuna steaks, chilli chocolate fillets and divine, rosewater-scented crème brûlée

Between courses, performers transport diners to a world where human limitations - and gravity - seem to disappear. One after another, acrobats, trapeze artists, dancers and contortionists from Russia, China, Mongolia and South Africa amazed us with their skill, beauty and grace.

My friends and I donned glittering masques as diners around us appeared in top hats, glitter, wigs, feather boas, and wings. The mood was light and playful and full of fantasy and fun. At the end of the final act there was dancing and laughter and a hint of sadness at the knowledge it all had to end.

The day seemed like a crazy dream and I left feeling slightly bewildered and strangely pleased with myself. I imagine Alice must have felt the same. Thanks Nevenka, Vanessa and Joel for the amazing company.

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