Varekai | Cirque du SoleilWhen I was a child, Circus was a synonym for dream and humanity. Many changes have come about in the last three decades, and not even dream and humanity have the same meaning as they did. Offering to the public a universe so different to the outside world, the Circus I knew as a child has almost died. Luckily, in the 80's and 90's groups of artists behind what was called the nouveau cirque française, in Europe, and what became the Cirque du Soleil, in Canada, are a living proof that the Circus isn't dead, it has just been asleep, waiting for a bunch of new ideas and ideals to pop onto the stage/ring from secret doors and holes. Cirque du Soleil's “Varekai”, now in Australia, is that kind of Circus.

The central character of this show, which started touring the world in 2002, is not unusual on stage. Like Strindberg did in his “Dream”, “Varekai” tells us a story of a fallen angel or god, who begins in our world to experiment human feelings, in a melting pot of happiness, joy, sadness, pain and, of course, love. The difference between Strindberg's play and “Varekai” is that the Canadian angel falls in the colourful and ever-changing world of gypsies - in Romany language “varekai” means “wherever”.

For this Cirque du Soleil's show, Dominic Champagne has transformed the old and traditional Circus, but some old and traditional numbers are still there in their original form. As this was my first time under their tent, which is not as big as I thought from watching their DVDs, I was curious to find out if I would still have the same feelings I had in my childhood Circus. I did.

One of the strongest feelings I had about Circus was that I had never stood clown acts, and even without the traditional red nose, I couldn't stand Cirque du Soleil's revised clown acts. Steven Bishop is a good Australian comedian with “Varekai”, and the number in which he chases the spotlight singing “Ne me quitte pas” without any success made me smile. But not enough to change my opinion about clowns.

I had also never tolerated malabarism acts, but the Cirque's revision of malabarism in “Varekai” is so well done that the audience simply loves each movement. So did I. And how not? How can someone sit in front of a man negotiating at the same time six pingpong balls with just two hands and his... mouth, not be fascinated?

But as a child what I had always liked in the Circus was its humanity. That feeling of sitting there with our nose pointing up to the air, looking to all that was happening above our heads, hoping that nothing went wrong and suspiring at every more dangerous movement. And in these audience-groaning numbers the Cirque du Soleil troupe is a specialist from the very beginning till the last act, where they put upside down the traditional trapeze number - which was always my childhood favorite, I have to confess - using two huge swinging metal structures fixed to the ring floor. They jump, they fly, they put their life at risk for a bunch of claps, and they almost fall every now and then, proving to the audience and to their main character, the angel, that we are human, but not because we're less than angel's, we're just different.

This was my first experience with the Cirque du Soleil, and although it was a little bit under my expectation, “Varekai” is a Circus like the ones in my childhood, full of life, dream and humanity, and nowadays this is not something that we can dispose of.

Cirque du Soleil presents

Under the Grand Chapiteau, The Esplanade, PERTH

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