The show itself began slowly, with forest creatures (I guess) slithering and sort of dancing. There was a lot of slithering and sort of dancing in the show. The non-acrobatic interludes were the dullest I've ever seen at Cirque du Soleil, by far. The clowns were largely annoying. The male clown did have a nice bit trying to sing a song in a, well, erratic spotlight. The female got bonked on the head and was treated as sexually desperate. At one point, her head exploded. He was presented as a sort of noble fool; she was presented as an idiot.
Here is a description of Varekai from the website:
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.
From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.
The word Varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.They say "wherever." I say, whatever.
So, what about the acrobatics? It was difficult to focus on them. Nearly everyone wore overdone, hyper-ornate costumes, and the overcostuming was frequently distracting. For example, when the forest creatures did some amazing moves, it was hard to make out what their bodies were doing amid all the fru-fru. And the horribly overamplified music didn't help.
But here is what did work.
- The wonderful Octavio Alegria, juggling with more parts of his body than one might think possible.
- The woman hand-balancing on canes. (I don't have the name of the performer, as we did not receive programs. We received something that sort of looked like a program, but it was basically ads.)
- The Icarian Games, which is people juggling. Very brave and agile people.
- The Russian Swings, a sort of seesaw-based trapeze act with some extraordinary flying through air with the greatest of ease.
(press tickets, 13th row orchestra--in back of floor seating--slightly off center)