Saturday, September 22, 2012


Ladybug - Foreigner - Flipo

Under the Grand Chapiteau
The Entertainment Quarter,
Sydney 13th Sept. to 4th Nov. 2012
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Whether or not circus is your thing  ..a visit to a Cirque Du Soleil performance is an experience you should treat yourself at least once in your lifetime. Cirque Du Soleil is more than just an entertainment. The production values are of the highest order. The performers consistently astonishing. It’s a trip into the fanciful.

The latest Cirque Du Soleil show to visit these shores is “Ovo” currently playing in the familiar blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau erected in the Entertainment Quarter in Sydney. “Ovo” is certainly one of the more remarkable Cirque offerings to date, particularly from the design point of view.

The Crickets
Themed as a day in the life of insects, all the performers in “Ovo” are costumed as fantastic abstract interpretations of various insects. Each individual costume is itself a work of art. A tribute to the art of the costumier. Not only do the costumes have to look remarkable, they also need to withstand the serious rigours of the spectacular routines. Designer Liz Vandal has used polyester, lycra, crystallette, stretch and transparent fabrics,  even expanded foam,  to transform the cast into a myriad of colourful insects, the most spectacular of which are the brilliant green grasshoppers with their protruding back legs. To complete these costumes each performer wears a wonderfully surreal make-up designed specially created by Julie Begin. 

If your budget will run to it, it’s best to commence your evening in the Tapis Rouge Lounge which opens an hour before showtime. The Tapis Rouge is its own sophisticated experience where you can browse the many tantalising souvenir stalls, while enjoying a drink and a selection of delicious taste treats, which on opening night even included quails eggs.

At showtime you’ll be ushered into the Grand Chapiteau transformed into a huge stylised ecosystem designed by Gringo Cardia which during the performance magically morphs into an ant-hill, forest, or cave.  At intervals during the performance huge moving flowers emit fragrances,  commencing with the oroma of fresh grass as the audience enters.

On the centre of the stage is a giant egg, and already there are surreal creatures circulating among the audience setting the atmosphere for the forthcoming performance. 
In what seems like no time at all, the onstage band, also dressed as insects, begins to play strangely erie music, the lights dim, the huge egg magically disappears to be replaced by an army of   incredible insect-like creatures, carrying a smaller egg which becomes a recurring theme throughout the show. So much is happening that it is  difficult to know where to look first.

The Ovo egg

This spectacularly choreographed opening eventually gives way to a series of specialty acts, each more incredible than the last. As the first group of creatures move off the stage we focus on a crystalline dragonfly who unfolds to performs unbelievable contortions balancing on a vinelike apparatus.
The Dragonfly 

The Antsy Ants 
The dragonfly is replaced by six delightful ants who scamper around the stage, performing an intricate juggling routine with giant sections of kiwi fruit with amazing precision. Had just two acrobats performed this routine it would have been remarkable, but to see six working with such precision, was simply thrilling.

The Butterflys

Following the ants two cloaked figures sweep onto the stage, and discard their huge wings to morph into beautiful butterflys to perform an erotic routine on a rope high over the heads of the audience.

The cricket. 
No sooner have the butterflies disappeared when a lively cricket takes their place to perform a brilliant routine with diabolos.

The Scarabs
Then a team of scarabs climb to the very top of the Grand Chapiteau to fly through the air in a series of heart-stopping manoeuvers overhead without trapezes.

The scarabs performing high above the audiens sans trapezes 
Back on stage level three apparently boneless but sexy spiders twist and contort their bodies into the most unbelievable positions before being joined on stage by a troupe of bouncing fleas which  perform balancing and tumbling moves so extreme that you would'nt believe them possible unless you had seen them with your own eyes.

The fleas - note the spider on rock in background. 

Then a shiny black male spider takes the stage to perform even more incredible balances, this time on a slackwire. He concludes his act with a truly amazing feat in which he balances on his head on a unicyle. 
Spider on slackwire 
After more mind-boggling acts the show draws to a climax when a troupe of bouncing crickets swarm on to the stage to perform impossible manoeuvres on trampolines which propel them high up a cliff face at the back of the stage. 

Bouncing crickets

Between these acts the stage is populated either by surreal creatures performing choreographed routines, or by a trio of truly funny characters caller Ladybug, Foreigner and Master Flipo who perform wordless sketches which advance a flimsy storyline about finding acceptance and true love, which also cleverly disguises the technical wizardry involved in the  preparations for each of the various acts. Not that this show needs either justification or storyline.

Ladybug - Foreigner - Flipo (background)

The fantasia ends all too soon in a storm of golden butterflies fluttering down over the audience - who reluctantly file out of the magical world inside the Grand Chapiteau back into the common-place, marvelling at the extraordinary skills of those amazing performers from all around the globe who make up the cast of Cirque Du Soliel’s “Ovo”.  



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