Nobody does mind-blowing circus like Cirque du Soleil. Or, to be more precise, did. Their annual sojourn to the Royal Albert Hall brings Totem, a show from 2010 which has already come here in 2011... and 2012.
There are a few jaw-dropping moments in this latest outing— not least the quintet of foot-jugglers who throw small bowls to each other while astride seven-foot high unicycles — but much of this show is dated. The LED effects have an 80s disco vibe to them while the risible clowning is, at its best, frankly basic, rather tedious and about as fun and welcome as anal polyps; at its worst, it exhibits the kind of outdated European stereotypes which wouldn’t look out of place at a UKIP conference.
Any plaudits should be reserved for writer and director Robert Lepage who has created a two-hour magical journey through space and time complemented by Kym Barrett’s sublime costuming and Jacques Boucher’s evocative soundtrack.
In the time since this show was first put together, plenty of companies with smaller budgets and considerable creativity have emerged and taken circus to thrilling new places, not least the Olivier Award-winning La Soiree or south London’s own Aircraft Circus . Those who want to get hands-on should check out courses at Aircraft Circus or head to east London for classes at Barking’s excellent Fire School or Hoxton’s renowned National Centre for Circus Arts.
Cirque du Soleil’s Totem, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Individual tickets from £10.75 or £1,388 for four seats in a Second Tier Box; discounts available for children, senior citizens, students and those in the armed forces and emergency services). Until 26 February 2019.