Despite having worked in the theatre industry for many years, and being a fan of the arts for many years, and having studied next to a circus university, I have never seen a Cirque Du Soleil show.
It’s almost criminal really.
It’s not that they haven’t toured to where I live, the Grand Chapiteau is always popping up near where I am, it’s been in Melbourne with (everything that’s ever toured to Aus) and when I was in Chicago it was there with Ovo. I was in NYC when they had residency in the Radio City Music Hall and had Banana Schpeel at Madison Square Garden.
But I never went.
Maybe it was ticket prices, maybe it was people telling me ‘oh that show isn’t as good as some of their others’, maybe I was just desperate to see ‘O’ in Vegas, or maybe there was just too much other stuff on.
Whatever the reason, all that finally changed last week when I got the chance to attend the opening night of the Brisbane leg of the ‘Totem’ tour. That’s stop number 30 in year number 5 of the world tour for this production. No wonder Cirque is the biggest theatrical producer in the world.
The shows themes reside around the evolution of man, though the scattered non-linear storyline blurs the lines on that a bit.
I was incredibly impressed with how intimate the whole experience was. With a name like The Grand Chapiteau one expects to be far from the action, that there will be seats for miles, and whilst there are 2600 seats crammed into the tent, it all seemed rather close and personal.
Having never seen a Cirque show before, but having seen a lot of other modern circus performance, it was immediately evident to see the effect Ciruqe Du Soleil has had on the industry. The formula of a Spiegeltent show I’d seen during Brisbane Festival, or even the work by Circus Oz, all felt very similar. Though Cirque does do one thing differently- it employs artists to do their one routine, and that’s pretty much it, whilst a lot of smaller companies employ performers to do three or more routines.
There were a number of great moments in the show that genuinely made me gasp and heavily applaud, and others that were a bit ho hum. I don’t know if I feel that way because I’ve seen a lot of circus now, or if I just had too great expectations. It was a very enjoyable evening though.
And I still really want to see ‘O’