When I think Cirq de Soleil I think quality, original entertainment. My past experiences have all been amazing. Full of wonder at the originality and unique nature of the themes, costumes and acts, I’ve never walked away from a performance feeling anything less than satisfaction. Until last weekend.
As soon as she found out it was coming to town, TW booked us the first tickets she could for Varekai. We’ve previously attended three different shows in both Australia and the US and the prospect of being able to take CA to experience her first Cirq was exciting. We couldn’t wait to see the look on her face and hear her interpretations of the show.
It all started off pretty positive. We caught the light rail to the terminus and waited for the bus to take us on to the entertainment centre. Whilst waiting, a French family overheard us talking about where we were going and mentioned that they were also going and there was an earlier bus. The bus was going almost the same route and detoured only slightly to the one we originally planned to catch. They would show us the way. What’s more, this other bus was going to arrive 45 minutes earlier. Sweet. We all caught the bus and walked the short distance to the venue. We had a short, polite chat with them in which we thanked them for their help and as an added bonus, they indicated a short cut back to the light rail line that we could take after the performance.
So, we found our seats and waited. Eventually, two performers appeared dressed as ushers and proceeded to entertain the crowd with a combination of mild slapstick and “lets embarrass the guy in the front row” type antics. They were mildly amusing and once the performers began to drift onto the stage we forgot about them.
Previous shows have had a well connected storyline that didn’t necessarily make logical sense (that’s part of the fantasy nature of the shows), but they flowed and came together to form a well-rounded experience. The music, the acrobatics and the incidental acts all wove together to form a story that provided a unique fantasy experience. As you have no doubt astutely guessed by now, this was not the case with Varekai. To prevent myself from launching into a full-blown rant, I have summarised for your convenience.
A series of acts performed by very talented artists, let down by a disjointed story with confusing characters and punctuated by performances by our two slapstick comedians who seemed totally out of place to the rest of the show.
What relevance the two comedians had to the story is beyond me. Not only were their performances very ordinary, they interrupted what little continuity there was with their story to the point where I’m sure many people were thinking “oh no, not these two again”.
To top it all off, when we exited the venue it was pissing down and we made our way drearily to the rail stop feeling like we’d been ripped off in more ways than one.
We’re not alone in our disappointment with the show. Confused by the shows lack of entertainment value, TW did a web search and found that disappointment was a common theme among people who’d seen the show. So, for me, the disappointing nature of the show is a good thing, and a bad thing. Firstly it’s bad because we feel we wasted time and money only to be let down by what we regarded as realistic expectations based on past experience. However, the good part is that, based on past experiences it is logical to assume that other Cirq de Soleil shows would be entertaining and enjoyable, and this experience should not stop us, or anyone else from going to future shows.