Photos – Matt Beard. Costumes – Dominique Lemieux © Cirque du Soleil.
Remember the circus as a kid? Giggling as the elephants and goofy clowns rolled around in the sawdust. Pretty girls hanging from a trapeze and then it’s over – and your face is smeared with fairy floss. As an adult, a circus needs to be more: atmospheric, engaging, and truly exciting. To the point that you leave more satisfied than if you went to the movies. Quidam is sophisticated circus-going, but universal for all: blockbuster action flick fans and opera-loving champagne-sippers alike.
The Canadian Cirque du Soleil entertainment juggernaut has multiple productions touring around the world at any given time. Quidam is one such incarnation. Over two parts, the audience experiences a series of circus-like vignettes by skilled performers specialising in acts involving acrobatics, silks, aerial stunts and more. There are no animals – ‘just’ a huge cast of 46 performers and a professional set. And there is no dialogue or storyline, which is part of the international appeal of Cirque du Soleil: it’s for all the countries of the world (that allow nude-colour leotards at least).
Who’s the star of Quidam? There is no clear protagonist. Standing out slightly more from the jumbled cast are core characters such as lonely girl Zoé (Alessandra Gonzalez), who seeks attention from her indifferent parents. In contrast to the fragility of Zoé is the ringmaster/clown Mark (Mark Ward) who excites the crowd and has some crafty circus skills himself. Later on, lively clown (Viktor Katona) peps up the audience with some interactive mime. Supporting the powerful vibe are the echoing vocals of Jamieson Lindenburg and the blend of live music from six musicians and atmospheric tracks and sound effects. So what? Well, it’s like getting a show within a show: Benoit Jutras’ originally composed music uses the electric and classical guitar, cello, violin and more to reverberate throughout the scenes.
What are the highlights? Every act has plenty of oohs and ahs with dazzling feats of amazing abs…I mean core strength, coordination and grace. The performers channel their talent into creative application of classic acts – many that involve heights and dizzying manoeuvres. In the more energetic sequences there is plenty of action everywhere – where to look? If not the central act, then the background hubbub of flitting dancers and skipping clowns. This kaleidoscope of chaos can get a bit overwhelming, but then masterfully transitions into quieter moments of elegant awe for solo and partner acts.
As for some lowlights, some acts go for too long, but maybe I just have ‘shiny things syndrome’. I wanted the next feat to multiply in wows and overall the show needed to build into a climax. This might have lacked because of the thin thread of narrative to bind all the acts together.
Will Quidam satisfy your circus expectations as an adult? Here’s a checklist: Will you cry? No. Gasp with wonder? Yes. Will you laugh? Chuckles for sure. Are there nail-biting death-defying acts? No. Is it a general good time? Yes.
Cirque du Soleil presents
Canberra 10 – 20 December 2015 | AIS Arena
Wollongong 23 Dec 2015 – 2 Jan 2016 | WIN Entertainment Centre
Hobart 6 – 10 January 2016 | Derwent Entertainment Centre
Newcastle 15 – 24 January 2016 | Newcastle Entertainment Centre
Tickets: $75 – $165