So how is it that Cirque du Soleil continues to enjoy such special kudos? The hubristic scale of its shows doesn't deliver real circus; neither does the expensive elaborateness of their packaging. It doesn't even amount to theatre. However bendy the contortionists, however bouncy the acrobats, however many risks the aerialists take, they always appear too buffed, coiffed and airbrushed to seem real. On top of that, the accompanying muzak is always so dire.
Friday, March 28, 2008
getting ready for the circus
The smell of oranges on Christmas morning. The feel of your first good second baseman mitt. The sight of the first daffodil after a cold winter. Sheer juvenile excitement.
And it is in the air this weekend. THE CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN! Not just any circus. It's the Cirque Du Soleil.
Almost every year, they bring a new show to Portland. This year, it is Corteo on Saturday afternoon.
For those of you who have not seen any of the Cirque Du Soleil productions (and that would be hard to believe -- they are everywhere -- it would be easier to avoid a Clinton campaign volunteer in Hershey), let me explain a bit of frustration. First-time goers will respond to the question: "What is it?" with terms like "amazing," "magical," "whimsical" -- as if they had just returned from a religious experience, rather than a circus.
I have been there. I remember my first exposure to the group in Las Vegas. I sat staring into the air as acrobats dressed as Dali would see birds plunged near the earth on bungee trapezes and then flew spinning into the air as if Newton meant only we untermensch to be tied to the earth with gravity''s invisible bungee cords. It was -- "amazing," "magical," "whimsical."
The company has its detractors. A blogger called the shows: "Moulin Rouge without breasts -- or dinner." Last year Judith Mackrell of The Guardian sputtered:
But she was simply being British. Judith, just flow with the acrobats. That is what we intend to do.
There will be no elephants to ride. But there will be the acid smell of oranges to remind us that Christmas can come on any morning.