Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever UK arena tour of its signature production, Varekai has arrived in Birmingham this week.
The critically-acclaimed show has been updated and features new acts yet to be seen in the UK. So if, like me, you’re a seasoned Cirque-goer, there’s plenty of new content to keep the show fresh.
Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world – a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.
The sky lets go a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Yes, there’s an overall theme of flight, beginning with a broken-winged Icarus skydiving into a magical forest of mythical creatures. And so begins an inspired incantation to a life rediscovered and to a newly found wonder in the mysteries of the world and the mind.
The word Varekai apparently means “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies — the universal wanderers.
Directed by the aptly named Dominic Champagne, this production indeed has plenty to celebrate.
The relentless line up of jaw-dropping stunts and displays keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Acro-gymnasts, aerial stunt acts and unique physical feats with everything from batons to steel hula hoops, are rolled out – all without a safety net in sight! – This makes for a rather nervy, yet spectacular, spectator experience.
But its the troupe of somersaulting gymnasts that provide the stunning climax of the night. A fitting way to bring the curtain – and the house – down.
Bringing us back to earth, there are plenty of laughs too courtesy of clowns Emily Carragher and Sean Kempton, although, for me, it is Sean’s solo ‘spotlight’ piece with
his physical performance of Ne Me Quitte Pas that most amuses.
Interwoven among all of this – and more – Cirque retains the artistic integrity for which it has become famous with some beautiful and spectacular choreographed pieces.
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is a major Québec-based organisation providing high-quality artistic entertainment. The company has 4,000 employees, including more than 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.
Varekai is only at Birmingham’s Genting Arena for a short time, until Sunday but it continues its tour around the UK until mid March.