Cirque Du Soleil
25 May 2011
to June 11
touring to Hobart, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Woolongong
Back in 1999, Saltimbanco gave Australia our first taste of Cirque du Soleil and we've been addicted ever since. This new arena version of the delicious candy-bright show misses the atmosphere of a big top, but still leaves me wondering if I really am too old to run away and join the circus.
Guy Laliberté formed Cirque du Soleil with a group of 20 street performers in 1984 in Quebec. Without animals, a focus on taking traditional tricks and routines to jaw-dropping levels and incorporating stunning design, simple story and live music, this troupe set a new standard for contemporary circus. Today Cirque du Soleil has 1200 artists among its 5000 employees, has 21 shows running all over the world and has been seen by about 100 million people. And their home provence continues to support some of the world's best circus performers with the National Circus School in Montreal and companies like Cirque Éloize and Les 7 doigts.
Saltimbanco still includes the remarkably beautiful live singing, the famous four-Chinese-Pole/20 people routine, the four-person bungee/trapeze, a sensational three-person Adagio and some audience-participation clowning, but seeing it an arena loses the authenticity, intimacy and atmosphere of the original circus tent. Despite all efforts, the sheer size and empty space of a room designed for outdoor sport creates a disconcerting distance between the performers and their audience, especially for a show with detailed makeup and costuming and one with such individual characters and such heart at its core.
Cirque Du Soleil performers are some of the best around and are always a joy to see. The high-tech nature of the show can make the super-human athleticism, bendiness and fearlessness of these incredible performers seem effortless, but this leaves us free to enjoy the astonishing feats instead of focusing on the how. And even if those sitting on the floor have a more interactive experience of the show, those further back can really appreciate the height of the Russian Swing routine and let their eyes bulge when the single trapeze really flies.
Circus doesn't get much slicker than Cirque Du Soleil.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com