Arriving at Wansheng Theater

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Arriving at Wansheng Theater was a Neil Stephenson novel come to life.

Our taxi driver pulled up in front of an old, peeling-grey, three story building. Its windows were boarded over and outside the second floor unlit neon letters spelled out "Welcome to our ACROBATICS SHOW" A middle aged man in a dingy polo shirt and sandals waved us around to the back of the building. At the end of the alley, a red neon sign glowed ENTRA CE.

Inside, the William Gibson-inspired setting continued. But it wasn't faked, this is where Gibson & Stephenson get their ideas. Everything was plush but run down. Two attendants showed us to our seats, four boxy armchairs, then served us bottled water and a tiny tray of cookies featuring an Oreo in the center.

The acrobats were delightful. They performed seven or eight acts featuring lithe contortions, balancing objects, spinning plates, winding ribbons. Several times, I had to wonder aloud, "Did she just do what I think she did?" as a woman moved from one improbable position to another by a even less probable route. Her head passed through her hips, I swear...

Maybe Chinese acrobats are Replicants.

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