high voltage action
Latest Cirque du Soleil show features even more electrifying stunts
By Byron Toben
Volta, the latest Cirque du Soleil spectacle, is, by my count, the 35th production of this Montreal based outfit, now the world’s largest production company. Its recent sale to a USA/Chinese/Caisse Pop consortium shows no sign of slowing down, even after original creator Guy Laliberté sold his shares and left the fold. What a run it was for a college drop out/street busker to shepherd his and his changing partners from the near bankrupt days of the 80s to success in the 90s and into the new century.
Volta, like most of the Cirques non ring, non animal circus shows, features continuous music, amazing feats of athleticism and acrobatics, colourful costumes and doses of comedy… the whole in a giant tent holding 2600 padded seats.
Here, a blue feathery haired boy, Waz (Joey Arrigo) grows up to be a TV game star show host wearing a golden helmet to foot costume. Despite the accolades and fawning paparazzi, he has an inner discontent and hooks up with a red haired lady leader of free spirits who provide more satisfaction than the armies of grey clad plebes concentrating on their mobile devices.
In the midst of all this, he also encounters his own look a like, never clear to me whether himself as a younger version or a doppelganger. This slight plot was enough for a leading critic, who, while appreciating the show’s justified Oohs and Ahhs, felt that its weak story line theme weakened the overall event.
I disagree with this. The Cirque never was nor should be a highly plotted encounter like an Ibsen play. It is more an abstract expressionist art painting than a well worked oil painting. Now on to some specific highlights.
The Cirque never was nor should be a highly plotted encounter like an Ibsen play. It is more an abstract expressionist art painting than a well worked oil painting.
Rope skipping sequences here introduce speed and agility that would put pro boxers in training to shame.
One real ‘grabber’ was Danila Bim’s ascent to the top of the tent while performing yoga poses, hoisted solely by her hair! A feat of levitation that sets a new record.
The usual comic relief by an “every man” figure was here supplied by height challenged Wayne Wilson who had multiple problems in getting a pair of laundromat machines to work properly.
The encompassing music was composed by the popular M83 group whose Antibes, France electronic music has led them to Los Angeles.
The spectacular climax is the team of bicycle riders who perform their daring do stunts of flips and landings on transparent ramps. Kids, don’t try this at home! The bicycles, by the way, are Volta brand e-bikes from manufacturer Pure Cycle of Burbank, California, which is also using Kickstarter in its financing and marketing program. Talk about “product placement”! Also impressive on a tiny unicycle was Phillipe Belanger who pedalled with the limber Marie-Lee Guilbert standing on his head.
‘The spectacular climax is the team of bicycle riders who perform their daring do stunts of flips and landings on transparent ramps.’
Over all, a triumph for young directors Bastien Alexandre and Jean Guibert.
Lots of ‘merch’ in the lobby during intermission and après, including souvenir books, T shirts, toy mobile devices, etc. Plus eats of which popcorn seemed to be the crowd favourite.
Volta continues at the Old Port until July 23.
Images: Patrice Lamoureux
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club