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Review of performance,
This review is from: Cirque Du Soleil: Varekai [DVD]  (DVD)
I went to a performance of the circus group `Cirque du Soleil' on the 16th of January 2010. Called `Varekai' it was an explosion of amazing performance and design, set "deep within a forest at the summit of a volcano" with performers dressed as mystical creatures and tells a story of a man who parachutes into the forest. However this story is punctuated with various circus acts including mime artists, trapeze artists, a contortionist, dancers, tumblers and a hilariously bad magician and assistant.
It was the set and costumes that first amazed me: a `forest' of long poles made the backdrop of the stage, and a structure of scaffolding led up to the very top of the performance area, where the trapeze artists emerged, swinging. The show itself began with amazingly costumed creatures emerging from the `forest' - moving in an appropriate way for their animal, such as slinking reptiles and bouncing animals in various colours.
There were many acts that stood out for their daring and originality and included the protagonist, who was dressed simply in white, with huge wings attached and descended to the stage from above. The forest creatures poked, prodded and took his wings away before he `awoke', folding himself into a net and performing in midair using it as a prop - always keeping hold of it in some way - posing and swinging from it - but the most amazing thing was when he rolled himself up in the net and letting it simply unravel, causing him to fall, landing just inches from the stage! As well as the artist in the net, a trapeze artist twins swung their way across the stage and a girl performed with a hoop in mid-air.
The mime artist, as well as having a fantastic costume, was brilliant. Without using speech he conveyed to the audience exactly what he meant, pretending to capture noisy sounds such as cars screeching and proceeding to put them in one end of a complex looking machine out of which the other end came beautiful birdsong.
The tumblers or `volcano leapers' were who made me most afraid! They brought out special equipment - which looked like chaise lounges but tilted upwards. One tumbler would like on the chair with his legs pointing upwards and another would stand on the end of his legs and jump, turning in mid-air, often two or three times in a row, and land precariously back on the other person's legs! However, at one point, one performer must have misjudged the timing, as, too quick for me to see the details, he landed on the stage. Expecting him to get up smiling, and take a bow, my heart was in my mouth as he shook his head at the other performers and, holding his head, walked offstage. This really brought home to me just how dangerous their acts are, and in a away helped me to appreciate the acts even more, although was consequently a lot more scared for the remainder of the acts!
In the middle of the performance was a very different act which served as a break from the rest of the rather intense storyline. It consisted of a terrible magician and his ridiculous `glamorous' assistant. The audience fell about laughing after he failed to do several of his magic tricks, and his assistant made things even worse. When an audience member was picked to take part in a disappearing act, he did not disappear but was `revealed' kissing the assistant. When the desperate magician tried the act again, he revealed a forest creature kissing the audience member, and in his final try, the assistant fighting the forest creature! Most impressive was the assistant's ability to walk around the stage in her high heels deliberately nearly tripping over at every step, like a cartoon character. Her short fluffy dress revealed Bridget-Jones-esque knickers each time which added to the comic effect!
In the penultimate act, we saw a contortionist bend her body into impossible shapes. This was the only thing I did not enjoy 120% as I found it painful to watch. This led to the finale where the man in the net, and the contortionist appeared to get married and the tumblers provided the entertainment for the wedding! They brought onto the stage two gigantic double swings which at first they used to propel themselves into a giant sheet. However, they became more daring, jumping from one moving swing onto the other - moving - swing in mid-air! Again, I was nervous for the performers and rightly so as at one point the timing was slightly off and one tumbler spilled off into a mattress that had been quickly and discreetly placed there.
At the end there was much clapping as they came out again and again to bow - the final time removing their hats or headdresses to reveal their normal hair causing them to look remarkably human again. I thought the entire performance was absolutely astounding, and could not believe how quickly the performance had gone, wanting to see it all over again straight away. The only thing I disliked was the contortionist, but I could not deny her talent. I would love to see the show again and have since recommended it to everybody I know since seeing it.