Left - Ballet on light. Costumes Francois Barbeau. Photo Al Seib. Cover - Foot Juggling. Photo - Ryuichi Oshimoto
When a bloke in a tuxedo with finger-in-light-socket hair directs you to someone else’s seat, you know you’re in the Big Top. Welcome to Cirque Du Soleil, the world’s most recognisable theatre brand and for good reason.
Before you even reach the Big Top you have an experience unto itself, the hard sell. This takes place in a mini tent that would rival any stall beside the Eiffel tower. “Are you excited”, enthuses the program vender to the small impressionable children. I was as a matter of fact, just not about any of his wares.
Dralion, the latest offering from this French Canadian circus phenomenon, refers to a creature part dragon part lion. The Dralion is the symbol of the fusion of eastern and western culture. Acts unique to Chinese theatre such as jumping through hoops, are blended with more staple Cirque Du Soleil acts.
These circus acts are interspersed with movement pieces. It is a performance more akin to a sporting event than a play. Like sport, there is great anticipation then cheers of admiration as physical feats are performed. And yes, these guys do have the same basic anatomical make-up as the rest of us. No rubber bands instead of hamstrings. They just train bloody hard.
The most spectacular act is the trampolines. The performers spring off said tramps and use their momentum to run vertically up walls. Meanwhile every part of the stage below is alive with colour and movement.
Cirque Du Soleil spare no expense when it comes to music and costume, which is why the hard sell is required. Performance is accompanied by live musicians who bang out splendid tribal percussion, among other styles. The costumes of Dralion represent the four elements: earth, fire, wind and water. They range from calm blues and greens to vibrant reds and yellows. Performers crawl about the stage lizard-like, dressed in body suits that resemble the spectacular body paints of African tribes.
Light-socket Head and his clowning friends fill in while the sets and costumes are changing and at times outsay their welcome. They rely on the fact that fat bald men are funny, which they are when the fat stomach expands outwards and gives its owner a whack on his hairless noggin. This movable gut looks rather like an erection from certain angles (don’t tell the kiddies). The clowns are at their best when mimicking the costumes and movements of the more serious performers.
Dralion is one of the most expensive tickets in town but worth the cash if you get your kicks out of brilliant costumes, tribal rhythms and physical feats of sheer disbelief.
Cirque Du Soleil presents
Venue: The Showring at the Entertainment Quarter Lang Road, Moore Park
Dates: 17 July - Sept 28 2008
Bookings: www.cirquedusoleil.com or phone on 1300 130 300