Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Cirque du Soleil: Quidam

  • Banquine. Photo: Matt Beard; Costumes: Dominique Lemieux ©2011 Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil's Quidam
The Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Through July 28, 2013
On tour in the US and around the world

What's It All About?
From the show (since I very rarely can figure out what the plot of a Cirque show is amidst all of the wondrous balancing, juggling, flying and clowning:

Young Zoé is bored; her parents, distant and apathetic, ignore her. Her life has lost all meaning. Seeking to fill the void of her existence, she slides into an imaginary world - the world of Quidam - where she meets characters who encourage her to free her soul.

Quidam: a nameless passer-by, a solitary figure lingering on a street corner, a person rushing past and swallowed by the crowd. It could be anyone, anybody. Someone coming or going at the heart of our anonymous society. A member of the crowd, one of the silent majority. The one who cries out, sings and dreams within us all. This is the "quidam" whom this show allows to speak. This is the place that beckons - a place for dreaming and genuine relations where all quidams, by proclaiming their individuality, can finally emerge from anonymity.

Quidam is directed by Guy Laliberté whose credits include Cirque du Soleil (1985), La magie continue (1986), We Reinvent the Circus (1987), Nouvelle expérience (1990), Saltimbanco (1992), Mystère (1993) Alegría (1994), Quidam (1996), La Nouba and "O" (1998). He also directed the full-length feature Alegria, which came out in the spring of 1999.

What are the Highlights?
Endless fun as acrobats, jugglers, clowns and even audience members entertain for about two hours under expansive curved trussing that allows performers to fly and even walk on air. It's breathtaking, awe-inspiring stuff.

This show doesn't include some of the more death-defying acts Cirque du Soleil is known for, but this troupe seems to be made up of exceptionally skilled acts with special talents. Standing out are these:
  • "Statue," where a man and a woman (Yves Decoste and Valentyna Sidenko), showcasing their very toned muscles, move as one while striking amazing poses of balance with grace and dexterity.
  • "Skipping ropes" which highlights individual jump roping skills and brings the large ensemble together for an amazing group routine.
  • "Clown Cinema," featuring clown Toto Castineiras trying to direct a movie with participants from the audience. Every time Castineiras was on stage the cute little boy in front of me giggled contagiously.
  • "Banquine," a spectacular with 15 performers doing a routine of human pyramids and acrobatics that make cheerleading competitions look lame.  Banquine is an Italian acrobatic tradition with origins that date back to the middle ages (and yes, that's straight out of the program -- again, I won't pretend to have taken in anything but the pure spectacle f the experience). This act won a Golden Clown at the Monte Carlo Circus Festival.
What are the Lowlights?
The music, composed by Musical Director Benoit Jutras, doesn't sound like a Cirque score (he has composed  the scores for O and La Nouba also) and includes annoying parts that sound like someone talking on a cell phone or on the radio while the music is playing. Some sounded like Mongolian throat singers to my son, who attended with me, and who was quite impressed. If he hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have been able to just told you that, having never heard of Mongolian throat singers myself.....

Here's what the show says about the music:
"In Quidam, Cirque du Soleil takes a new approach to vocals. For the first time, the fragility of a childlike voice combines with the strength of a man’s voice to create a powerful blend of sensitivity and intensity. The musicians follow the artists’ movements and ensure they are in sync with the act."

The crowd here was not a theater audience, with people talking, taking photos and filming video throughout the show. The security sweep to get into the facility would make the TSA proud.

More information:
This New York engagement is very limited, running only through this Sunday, July 28 at the Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave  Brooklyn, NY. Buy tickets by clicking here. For a list of tour cities, click here. Next stop: Florida.

Christians might also like to know:
-- No notes. Enjoy.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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