There’s a BBC Radio 4 programme called “I’ve Never Seen Star Wars” where celebrities tell presenter Marcus Brigstocke (currently starring as Barnum at The Menier), about the things they’ve surprisingly never done. Well I’m not a celebrity but if invited on, I could tell Marcus that in the thirty plus years it’s been around, I’ve never seen a Cirque Du Soleil production – up to now that is!
Cirque Du Soleil’s latest production is called Ovo (which is Portuguese for egg). And indeed, when you enter the auditorium of the Royal Albert Hall, there’s an enormous egg on the stage which has been set up where most of the stalls seats would be. As the audience take their seats, strange insect-like creatures start to appear and engage with the audience. They steal programmes, ruffle hair and pose for selfies. The creatures then melt into the dark, the band starts playing loud samba music and the show begins.
What follows is a parade of what used to be called “turns”. Amongst them are a group of ants foot-juggling large kiwi fruits and corn cobs, two butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and soar across the stage strung on straps hung from the ceiling, a firefly spinning multiple diabolos (they’re a bit like two yoyos stuck together and spun on a string between two sticks), a spider rides a unicycle on a slack wire and crickets jump from the top of a thirty-foot-high wall onto a trampoline and back again. Oh, and there was Creatura, a loose-limbed, giant slinky who danced superbly but I’m not sure could be considered an insect!
In between the twelve or so acts are three “clowns”, Neiva Nascimento (as Ladybug a voluptuous winged insect), Jan Dutler (as Foreigner, a blue fly who for some reason brings with him a large egg strapped to his back) and Gerard Regitschnig as Master Flipo (I have no idea what kind of insect he was supposed to be). They prance around the stage pulling faces, shouting unintelligibly in some kind of pigeon Esperanto whilst being remarkably unfunny. Somewhere in there is a story of unrequited love between Ladybug and Foreigner but I have no idea why. I can only suppose the three are there to give the acts that follow them time to change costume and for the stage technicians time to construct the various climbing frames, platforms and safety nets. All of the acts are high energy and give their all but the three so-called clowns slow everything down and the energy level drops as the audience suffer a collective ennui.
Some of the acts are certainly amazing and it’s almost impossible to describe in words what these very visual artists do. There’s a contortionist who seems to bend his body into shapes that look impossible (I hope he has a first-class chiropractor). The foot-juggling ants are incredibly well-drilled and transfer objects to each other’s feet at an incredible pace. My personal favourites were the crickets who jump from the top of a high wall onto trampolines and bounce back on to the wall as if pulled up by a giant elastic band.
However, whilst although on the whole, I enjoyed the show, I did feel it lacked the “wow” factor. The insect theme meant there were lots of bright costumes and the whole show was a dazzle of spectacular, speeding colour – it’s all a bit trippy. But the projections on to the screen at the back of the stage were nothing special, the music was sometimes a bit incongruous and the singing wasn’t really needed – and don’t get me started again on the three clowns!
I can definitely see the appeal of Cirque Du Soleil and the majority of the audience loved it. However, now I’ve finally seen a production, I won’t be rushing to see another one soon.
Review by Alan Fitter
After the success of Amaluna, Cirque du Soleil returns to London in January 2018 with OVO.
Having thrilled more than 4.5 million people worldwide since the show premiered in Montreal in 2009, OVO will make its European debut later this year followed by performances at the Royal Albert Hall for Cirque Du Soleil’s annual residency in London.
OVO, meaning “egg” in Portuguese, is a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.
The cast of OVO is comprised of 50 performing artists from 12 countries specializing in many acrobatic acts. One highlight of OVO is the stunning Flying Act in which a group of scarabs soar high above the stage, from both edges to the middle landing on a platform.
Don’t miss this spectacular show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall.
Booking Until: 4th Mar 2018