How wonderful that my first review of 2006 should be Alegria. I am a huge Cirque du Soleil fan and to date this is my favourite show.
For those who don't know Cirque du Soleil's style, well, it's as far from traditional British circus as it is possible to get whilst still being circus. It is stylish and styalised, a feast for the ears and ears as well as a series of amazing 'acts'. Each show is themed from top to bottom, every costume, movement, sound and prop supports and builds on the style to produce a coherent whole. There's no dull pause between acts, the ensemble are bopth the scene shifters and acts in themselves and the every part of the stage us kept visually appealing at all times.
Yes, I'm a fan ..
Contortionists, trapeze (synchronized and multiple), fire juggling, a beautifully choreographed cross-trampoline act, russian bars, a suprisingly enthralling ribbon and hoop act, a rather weak bungie act and a magnificant balancing act .. you get the picture!
However, for me, the core of Alegria is, and always has been, the clowning. Not so much the incidentals but the large "Snow Show" set piece developed by Slava. Again, forget anything you learned from British circus clowns; this is just plain different. Funny and sad, telling a real story and raising a tear - this is a wonderful, tale told with genuine feeling and pathos, taking the audience along on a journey with a real heart. When I first saw this it changed my whole view of 'clowning' and gave me a new respect for this form. Thought: Didn't the clown used to 'die' at the end? Perhaps my memory is playing tricks, I have seen this in the previous Alegria and separately in Slava's Snowshow ...
Downsides ... very few. The fire act fell flat when the juggler's baton broke and we were left staring at him while he stared around for (a) stage crew to come and douse the burning end and (b) someone to provide either a replacement or relief ... embarrasment all around but just one of those things. And the loss of Jeux d'Enfants from the sountrack, a beautiful piece from the strolling players that always beings a smile to my face when listening to the CD. But these are small matters, yet again Cirque du Soleil delight, amaze and amuse. Wonderful show.