Cirque Du Soliel's Varekai at the Royal Albert Hall. We'd not seen a CdC show before and I hope I don't damn it with faint praise by saying that it was exactly what I expected it to be. A circus show. A spectacular circus show.
The Evening Standard review summed it up very well; At its best Varekai is an exhilarating experience. It has dazzle, imagination, gravity-defying stunts, even a smattering of eroticism. What it needs, perhaps, is more soul.
Apparently Varekai is the Romany word for "wherever", and this characteristically elaborate spectacle by the Canadian company Cirque du Soleil, written and directed by Dominic Champagne, plays with traditional imagery of wandering, rootlessness and flight. The show in fact begins limply, with some charmless clowning and a squeaky-voiced sprite thanking the corporate backers. It relapses a couple of times into mediocrity, notably when yet another clown turns Jacques Brel's imploring "Ne me quitte pas" into a piece of spotlit slapstick. However, there is a huge amount to admire: beautifully costumed by Eiko Ishioka, the production features thrilling trapeze work, moments of balletic poise, a man on crutches moving more athletically than anyone on Britain's Got Talent, and a juggler who treats Panama hats as if they are boomerangs.There may be a story of sorts - loosely connected to the myth of Icarus - but the emphasis is on acrobatic moves and slick choreography. The cast's physical feats are so accomplished that one can lose sight of the risks they involve. Some sections are overlong, and the soundtrack, reminiscent of Claude Challe's Buddha Bar compilations, is cloying. But the visual feast is rich.
The highlight for me was the brothers Andrew and Kevin Atherton, swooping dramatically from the roof on lithe elastic straps.