Copyright: Solange Berchemin
Cirque du Soleil is in town, bringing with it, its fair share of expectations. Now in its second decade at the Royal Albert Hall, Cirque du Soleil presents its most popular show to date Amaluna. On Premiere night, the Canadian circus institution should have brought the stained glass ceiling down but, in spite of the exceptional and perfectly executed acrobatic stunts, the show which should have evoked imagination and invoked senses seemed soulless and left me cold.
Loosely based on Shakespeare's Tempest, the story takes place on Amaluna, an enchanted, tropical island where goddess Prospera's daughter is coming of age. The celebrations were going smoothly until a shipwreck, washed up Romeo on the shore of the mysterious island. Not the strongest of plots but if you throw in the mix, sorceresses, amazons, human lizards and loads more magical creatures in glitzy costumes, it made for a beautiful show.
Copyright: Cirque du Soleil
A show which started well enough with golden unicyclists executing thrilling spins and acrobatics. The theme we were told from the outset is of female empowerment. The cast is composed of 70% women, including an all-female rock band who gave their all, throughout. It contains some rather entertaining role reversal spins too, such as Romeo displaying amazing strength while contorting his body, in extra-ordinary ways around a vertical king-sized pole.
There is no denying the cast incredible performance. You could almost feel the audience holding their breath as Miranda hand-balanced upside down on stilts before diving in a giant water bowl closely akin to a burlesque prop. However, if these moments displayed mind-boggling skills on the part of the artists, they appeared void of feeling, something in the direction was lacking.
Copyright: Cirque du Soleil
I should mention the half-man half-lizard, Cali, whose impersonation skills were mesmerizing and the aerial acrobats managed to cover the entire Royal Albert Hall cavernous space as they spun around in giant hula-hops, suspended mid-air by an invisible force had me gasping at the sheer magic of their acts.
I'd always wanted to see Le Cirque du Soleil. After-all, it's the circus which reinvented and revived a declining industry. I was prepared to be dazzled. I was left disappointed. The muddled direction and the weak narrative took a lot away from the beautiful set and the magical acrobatics. It may not be as good as it once was but, it is still worth catching a show while Cirque is in town.
Cirque du Soleil has partnered with Oxfam to raise awareness and funds for their campaign to help women living in extreme poverty.
Amaluna runs at the Royal Albert Hall until the 26 February 2017
Tickets start at £20
Cirque du Soleil Copyright: Cirque du Soleil