Review by Tulis McCall
(10 Apr 2010)
Boy oh boy, they make it look easy. Everyone does in this latest offering from Cirque du Soleil. Ants, butterflies, spiders, crickets, scarabs. Buns of iron, thighs of steel, all encased in costumes that necessitated each person removing their hands and feet before slipping inside.
In the very first solo act of Ov0, a man in a blue body suit with diaphanous pantaloons balances on one hand and slowly extends his torso up, then over at a 90 degree angle. He held this pose for a few moments, and then extends one leg up into a split. Then he begins to revolve. I leaned over and whispered to my friend, “I can do that.” She nearly spit her wine on the person in front of us.
Ovo is the egg that the Foreigner (François-Guillaume) has been schlepping all over creation. He happens upon an insect colony where he is smitten by the lovely Lady Bug (Michelle Matlock LeBlanc). Filipo (Joseph Collard) is the Major Domo of the colony and as well as an all around authority on how to woo a Lady Bug. Between bouts of bossing the colony into a daily routine he aids the on-again off-again romance between Filipo and Lady Bug. Romance finally succeeds and no on eats the egg. That’s the story.
I am of the opinion that the story is the last thing to get tacked onto Cirque shows. I think they start with things like, “Okay – we want two HUGE flowers that bloom on command; we want something that looks like a Slinky on steroids; we want trapeze of course, and oh yeah – we want insects using trampolines to help them rock climb.” No problem. Add a beginning, middle and an end and you have a story. My friend said it’s good to tie everything together. Fine.
Between plot points we see the good side of what happens when people have too much time on their hands. First they throw things. Then they throw things at each other. Then they throw things to each other. Then they throw each other. Then they synchronize! After that they slow down the motion to see how long they can make the hilarity last. They scale one another until the foundation collapses. They balance on one another. They balance by themselves. Then they tip over and balance on their hands or heads. Then they balance on a rope. After that they start flying.
Okay. This may be too much information for you, but about 2,600 people just had their #1 sexual fantasy redefined last night. We all want to do it in the air. The Spanish Web Duo of Maxim Kozlov and Inn Mayorva perform a pas de deux in the air that left us all gasping. It’s just the two of them and a rope. A very think rope, but still, a rope. They spin, they slither, they fly prone and parallel, sometimes separated by a cushion of air and sometimes not.
There is no purpose in this evening other than to sit back and revel in what humans will create with their bodies. It is nothing short of a miracle. Act after act tumbles onto the stage, accompanied by a band of hot, hot, hot musicians, and invites you to dive in to a physical magic that will probably make you howl and will definitely make you applaud.
And it all takes place under a big top that is 50% rigging. There are over 80 cables used in the trapeze act. Giant Kiwi slices are juggled by six women lying on their backs. There is a spider web that fills the ring, an egg over 25 feet high, two giant flowers and a couple of floating membranes. The costumes and make up alone must take each person at least an hour to apply. With all this clutter, not to mention the people who run the spotlights who have to climb to work secured by cables and, once in their enormous seats, strap themselves in with a seatbelt, there is a sense of vibrance and clarity.
Cirque du Soleil – Circus of the Sun – glows and pulses and celebrates. The world can be an odd and gloomy place. But under the Grand Chapiteau we are given the gift of remembering that we are the species with the most refined sense of humor. We are the ones who invent and create. And in this ecologically minded production we are reminded that we are the ones who can lighten each other’s load with panache, fantasy and something close to inspiration.
You leave the Chapiteau feeling more than good and still hearing that little voice that says, “I can do that.” Makes you laugh out loud, and you don’t tell that voice to shush. Because somewhere in your life you know you can.
PS - Did any of you see them in Battery Park in 1987 when the tent was tiny and we sat on bleachers?