Photo taken from joaoa's Flickr photostream under a Creative Commons licence.
The story is loosely based on the legend of Icarus, yet instead of a fatal fall he survives, landing in a luscious forest where the creatures teach him how to fly again. The props and costumes are wonderful, taking in all manner of biological influences, from swarms of LED flies to living fauna.
The Royal Albert Hall is the only venue in London capable of accommodating Varekai’s complex stage and lighting set up: a forest of bamboo shoots rises up into the rafters, whilst a rickety scaffolding hides the workings of a complex aerial rig. A stunning opener sees Icarus falling from the sky, performing an incredible contortionist sequence entangled in a net. A group of acrobats lie on stone benches, flipping their partners with their soles. A juggling virtuoso fires ping pong balls into the air using his mouth. Each act is more spectacular than the last.
The performers are physically supreme, but their real skill lies beyond this, in a fusion of physicality, acting and expression. This is underlined by the tiny margins of error, which the producers utilise it to keep the audience on the edge of their seats for two hour performance.
Varekai is worthy of its premier status, combining a strong story, excellent props, brilliant music and some of the best set pieces in Cirque Du Soleil’s expansive repertoire. The only problem is, it has to be seen to be believed; don’t miss out.
By Will Hines.
Cirque du Soleil's Varekai, 5th January to 14th February 2010 at Royal Albert Hall, for more information go to the Royal Albert Hall website. Tickets are currently priced at £20-£75, with hospitality packages at £180.