Cirque du Soleil’s
icy winter wonderland
Crystal incorporates juggling, acrobatics and high wire thrills with skating daring dos
By Byron Toben
Until now, my gold standard for visualising a winter wonderland has been film excerpts of the ever-cheerful Doris Day singing and dancing in the snow. Must be good for longevity as the gal is now 95 years old! See a link to her classic delivery at the end of this review.
Now Crystal, the latest touring show by Montreal’s own Cirque du Soleil, has reset the parameters.
Appropriately staged in the Bell Centre rink (home of the Canadiens hockey club), it incorporates the usual Cirque displays of juggling, acrobatics and high wire thrills with skating daring dos.
Crystal is a dreamy young girl bored with the push to conformity. Portrayed by Canadian Nabohar Dadul, the red-haired miss falls through the ice in a pond and encounters her alter ego (later, three alter egos) as she wrestles with growing up pains, from schoolyard to university to corporate employment to a search for a significant other.
Along the way, witness a thrilling hockey sequence where bleu, blanc et rouge clad skaters, their jumps enhanced by ramps, whirl and twirl about. (I thought that the Habs, with their current problems, should consider hiring some of these guys.)
As usual, the whole is enveloped in music, but instead of all original Cirque compositions, some known pop is used. Covered by Quebec singers are such as U2 and Beyonce (I know who they are) and one Sia (Whozat?).
My gold standard for visualising a winter wonderland has been… Doris Day singing and dancing in the snow. Crystal… has reset the parameters.
As is the Cirque’s tradition, one performer appears as a clown-like bumbler, an every man wanderer who throws snowballs into the crowd, drives a Zamboni-like vehicle to smooth the ice and waltzes with a lamppost.
French acrobat Jerome Sordillon joins Crystal in a closing lovers embrace on high.
Tons of costume and skate changes make this fast-moving show an enthralling experience.
I had two film flashbacks during two episodes. I do not believe the writers and stagers swiped the images, just me connecting similarities. Toward the beginning, Crystal is beset swimming against hordes of white-costumed and hooded men, perhaps ice pellets or waves, but I kept thinking of the scene in Woody Allen’s 1972 Everything You Always Wanted To Know about Sex with similarly garbed sperm rushing to get out.
Beginning the second act was a multiple mirror scene a bit reminiscent of Orson Welles’ 1947 Lady From Shanghai, but without the shooting of revolvers. Or perhaps Alice Through the Looking Glass.
And, speaking of films, here is, as promised above, the link to good old Doris Day celebrating winter but without trapeze or angst.
Crystal played at the Bell Centre from December 20 to 31.
Images: courtesy of Cirque du Soleil