Cirque du Soleil, Alegria

Review in Issue 11-1 | Spring 1999

Over the past few years Cirque du Soleil has become a household name.

So popular is the Canadian company in this country alone, they have consistently sold out the Royal Albert Hall. In some respects the public’s understanding of contemporary circus is now eponymous with Cirque du Soleil. So it was with high expectations that I experienced their latest offering, Alegria.

Soleil’s greatness lies in their collection of truly extraordinary physical acts. A breathtaking swinging trapeze routine opens the show. Agile, fast and awe-inspiring, it provides that mysterious thrill for which circus performance is notorious. There is also a contortion double act; two tiny, young and bendy people slowly move their bodies in and out of seemingly impossible shapes. At times they look like two strange creatures copulating, I was utterly transfixed if not a little disturbed.

These are only two acts from an evening of many unique displays of human skill and courage. It is disappointing then that, on top of the human element, Soleil have constructed layers of dramatic flounce and frippery which serve about as much purpose as a toilet roll dolly cover. The artifice of elaborate, and in some instances ugly, costuming combined with an obtuse attempt at a narrative (which entails much aimless running about the stage), distracts from the accomplishment of the routines.

I now understand Soleil’s reputation for strong physical acts and slick production values, but the evening in its entirety left me wondering what all the fuss is about.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-1
p. 24