Fri 24th Sep 2010. Another typical night’s entertainment in downtown Zürich. Well, OK…maybe typical ain’t the right word…but whatever it was, it was certainly entertainment and damned enjoyable entertainment at that…;o)
I must admit that I’d heard vague whisperings wrt the eccentric Canadian (or is that Québecois?) circus troupe. But my only sighting, thus far, had been a parody on the Trey Parker/Matt Stone classic, South Park. (You know, the episode where the boys fall for the Romanian contorting quintuplets).
The whole thing looked kinda whacky to me and I never really imagined I’d get the chance (let alone the inclination) to attend an event where the performers prance around in leotards, miming like they just had one too many ‘shrooms for lunch.
I guess the first 2 minutes, where artistically dressed characters slunk slank slinked ambled onto the stage, to set the scene, did little to change my mind on that score. I’m glad, however, that I didn’t go with my gut instinct to slip out the nearest exit; ‘cos from there on out it was nothing short of pure entertainment. (My gob has never been so smacked; I can tell ya).
Sure the costumes and characters were kinda out there. But I guess that’s the price you pay for a waning interest in the more traditional form of the art. It’s a long proven maxim that you either adapt and evolve, or fall by the way-side. For the mums, I guess there were buffed male bods in lycra (that’s spandex to our American cousins). For the dads, there were flexible chicks in spandex (that’s lycra to our UK cousins). And for the kids, garish colors and unusual bipedal creatures, from who knows what planet?
I must admit, that I’m actually still a sucker for the more traditional circus and feel kinda saddened that it seems the older I get, the smaller they seem. But the Cirque du Soleil crew somehow seemed much bigger than the limited venue that contained them? (Scotty would surely have something to say about the laws of physics at this juncture). To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what anyone else thought of the show; ‘cos I was so transfixed, I was oblivious to anything that wasn’t on that stage.
There were certainly elements of dance and mime; music and lights. Lots going on in the foreground and the background; up, down, left and right; on stage and off. There were feats of daring and balance; agility and strength. Evidence of years of dedicated training and a hell of a lot of mutual trust. But above all of that, a palpable aura of pure enjoyment from the boys and girls actually performing.
I say boys and girls; partly because ladies and gentlemen evokes an image of English nobility quaffing champagne and eating cucumber sandwiches, (with crusts cut off); but also ‘cos there seemed to be a diversity of age, culture and nationality. I’m not sure if the latter was really true or mere imagination on my part. But either way, I appreciated the prevalence of grunts, mimes and mumbles, to help transcend any language barriers. Plus the smattering of multilingual asides, to emphasize the brumm-chah of the ensuing punch-line.
Admittedly there’s a plethora of flowery words and imagery floating around those previous two paragraphs. But I really don’t know how else to describe what I experienced? I’m not sure you can fully appreciate it, until you actually see it with your own two eyes. The contortionists make you wince, the aerialists and acrobats make you wanna go home and bounce on the bed…and the clowns, corny as they are, still make you laugh.
It’s funny how, in retrospect, the clowns (for want of a better word) stood out as somehow out of place? I don’t mean that in a bad way. They totally rocked! It was just…I don’t know…kinda thought provoking that clowns were the only participants that didn’t wear a mask. (Face paint or otherwise). It’s like everything was role reversal from a traditional circus; despite all the usual elements (and more besides) being present and accounted for.
Perhaps the take away for the audience is that anyone who doesn’t wear a mask, could benefit from not taking themselves too seriously. ;o)