London’s Wonderground is a scintillating venue, host to a marvelous variety of cabaret, circus and sideshow. With a more liberal take on art and expression, London is the perfect place to exhibit and introduce a play that challenges mainstream restrictions on how to display acts of sex and sensuality through a performance known as Cantina.
Men and women experience a complete 180 as their sexual and physical roles get reversed. Throughout history, men have held the most basic kind of physical power, while women have been restricted by their gender to the kitchen and to the position of the subordinate when in a relationship with a man. They hold power within their sexuality, and use it to their advantage, never really utilizing intellect or physicality as a venue for attaining a goal.
Cantina emphasizes a confidence in sexuality for the males, while challenging the female sensuality and illustrating the complexities that go into forming even the most basic types of relationships between members of the opposite gender. Men in this play seem to lack the physical and inner power that has dominated their culture for so long, while women seem to gain their power through intellect and physical strength.
One scene in particular emphasizes this progression when both male and female leads are fighting in the middle of the stage. Through the passionate touching and choreography, dark colors and cast shadows, and bold, intense sound and dance, we as the audience are able to witness a power progression. In what would seem to be a basic case of domestic abuse, we see both man and woman fighting on stage. The end result, however, is different from the expected. The woman is left standing, while the man lays defeated. She walks away in triumph as he is left wounded on the stage. This simple act not only expresses the satisfaction within the woman who has just attained the aforesaid power, but also demonstrates the capability and confidence that the female sex has through the exploration of outlets other than sex to attain a goal.
Additionally, we see the men embrace their sexuality, something the women seem to be trying to steer clear from. Whether the show displays a man flaunting himself in the nude for laughter or a man getting walked on by a woman in heels, both scenes represent this acceptance of a more sensual, unexplored side of the male psyche along with an acceptance of women as figures of power. The male leads were the ones who undressed, while in a normal burlesque, the women would be the ones flaunting their bodies. This transference of sexual power from the females to the males is mirrored in society today, as is a comparative transfer of intellect and physicality from male to female. Cantina directly represents the rapidly transforming boundaries that affect society, and it is in its direct emphasis on sexuality’s changing definition that makes the show such a success.