On December 8th, 2016 I used Cirque du Soleil as an excuse to visit my buddy Jojo in Kingston. I was on quite a Cirque kick at the time, having seen two shows already in 2016 (Kurios and Luzia) and I had another coming up in Mexico a month later (Joyà) so when I saw that Cirque was bringing their show Ovo to Kingston it was a no-brainer: I bought a ticket for Jojo as a Christmas present and m’lady and I drove to town and took up residence on his couch for the night.
The show had rolled into Kingston’s K-Rock Centre for a week or so. Though Ovo had first toured under Cirque’s unique and instantly-identifiable Grand Chapiteau tent, the show had been retired for a few years before being reborn as an arena production. Of all the Cirque shows I had seen this was my first time catching one of their performances in an arena and I gotta say, it does take things down a notch.
There is just something so ethereal-circusy about the striped and pointy Grand Chapiteau that adds to the wonder and mystique of the Cirque du Soleil experience. From both inside and out the tent contributes so much to the show; ducking wide-eyed into the looming Seuss-like canvas structure to find the cozy intimacy of the theatre-in-the-round single-ringed interior is leaps and bounds better than getting your ticket punched at one of several generic entrances and taking your folding seat in a cold, cavernous hockey rink. But in the end the show is the thing, and arena or not these Cirque folks tend to dial in some pretty top-notch entertainment, as they did on this night.
Ovo had a bug theme – every character in the show was dressed up as either a ladybug or a spider or a wasp or any number of acrobatic creepy-crawlies, and the whole show was centred around a giant egg (ovo=egg). Without the benefit of a ready-made theatre like the ones Cirque has built in places like Las Vegas, Disneyworld and Mexico, the show featured plenty of Cirque’s standard jump-around sort of acts, with leg-juggling, crazed balancing, overt clowning and so much more, and it was all pretty jaw-dropping, as it usually is.
One of the real hooks of Cirque du Soleil is having two acts going on simultaneously. Presenting two mind-reeling acts at the same time is such a feast for the senses it makes the mind twirl. For Ovo’s closing number they had not two but three (count ‘em, three) acts occurring together, with trampoline artists and tumblers and performers of just about every other sort of physically improbable action imaginable all weaving in and around one another in a manic swirl of activity, live music and flashing lights. These guys (and girls, and grasshoppers, and ladybugs) habitually create such a flurious, chaotic barrage that the audience inevitably makes for the exits in a stunned silence at the shows end, with the bravest amongst them swearing they’ll never miss another Cirque performance.
And as you know I can be oh so very brave sometimes.