Among all the high-tech, high-velocity thrills at Six Flags Magic Mountain, 13 members of the China National Acrobatic Troupe from Peking provide a welcome display of relatively intimate, unhurried dexterity.
Performing in the Showcase Theatre four times daily (except Fridays) through Sept. 2, this company of jugglers, magicians and gymnasts is the smallest group yet sent to America by the People's Republic. Indeed, the Chengdu Acrobats balanced more people on a single bicycle at the Olympic Arts Festival last summer than were seen during the entire Magic Mountain press preview Friday.
Thus, instead of a circus-like spectacle, this is something more vaudevillian: nine acts ranging from ancient Chinese magic to a newly devised specialty involving the simultaneous juggling and playing of drums and gongs.
There are no plate-spinning or bike-riding tricks here, but plenty of dancing lions, jars flying through the air, spools spun on strings, chairs balanced atop one another, playing cards appearing out of nowhere and men diving through hoops. Best of all, perhaps: 16-year-old Zhou Sharong rotating slowly while standing on her chin--legs and arms extended to balance stacks of rice bowls.
As always, the Chinese delight in presenting familiar actions in strange contexts. Quin Mingxiao, for example, likes to show people his goldfish--and he has no difficulty in bringing all 20 bowls of them from behind his magic scarf. Like any housewife, Zhao Yingying methodically assembles her tea service--cups, pot, lid and spoon--all the while riding a unicycle up a ramped platform.
Only half the acts are presented in each 40-minute show; to see everything, you must attend two consecutive performances. Show times: 2, 3:30, 5 and 7 p.m.