Quidam: Cirque du Soleil
Royal Albert Hall

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 8:41 AM | Review by: Gillian Fisher |
Statue Act, Photos Matt Beard and Costumes Dominique Lemieux Statue Act, Photos Matt Beard and Costumes Dominique Lemieux

Quidam ticks every box for a fabulous circus experience. The acts astonish and inspire as the phenomenally talented acrobats, gymnasts, clowns, jugglers and dancers take to the revolving stage.


On a dark and stormy night young Zoé dreams of an adventure to deliver her from boredom. As a thunder clap roars a man with no head arrives to shelter from the rain. After taking his hat and placing it upon her head Zoe finds herself plunged into the extraordinary world of Quidam. Surrounded by magical creatures and fantastical sights it seems that Zoé’s adventure is about to begin.


Cirque du Soleil’s breath-taking productions have seen audiences picking up their jaws for three decades and Quidam continues this trend. Directed by Franco Dragone, this show hinges upon the alternate realities and make believe worlds that are particular to childhood. The costumes designed by Dominique Lemieux and François Barbeau are striking but have a youthful simplicity to them. This is seen in characters such as The Aviator who zooms around the stage with a wooden frame on his back or Boum Boum; the zombiesque athlete who jiggles his boxing gloves at any given opportunity. Whilst several of the characters do not perform specific acts, they establish a feel of netherworld; a storyline around the fabulous feats. It is this emphasis upon narrative which makes Cirque du Soleil so magnificently unique in its field.


The circus routines themselves were seamless and often appeared to defy the elements. For example ‘Aerial Hoops,’ which involved three artists flexing, posturing and spinning in mid-air with often only a single foot attached to their hoops seemed to challenge gravity. Another seemingly impossible exploit was ‘Hand Balancing.’ The slightly punky artist teeters on a series of canes; folding her body into a series of poses and enacting balletic movements which would be impressive enough on solid ground. The music directed and composed by Benoit Jutras is perfectly conceived to suit each stage of the show. The theatrical scenes are often twinned with rather soft eerie melodies building the sense of fantasia. During the acts the music tends to rapidly erupt into more industrial crescendo perfectly enhancing the speed and precarious nature of the deeds.


Target Character, Photos Matt Beard and Costumes Dominique Lemieux Target Character, Photos Matt Beard and Costumes Dominique Lemieux

Quidam takes traditional circus to a higher more operatic level whilst retaining the nostalgic elements. Time honoured acts such as ‘Diablo’ (naturally performed with an esoteric twist) make this show the most family orientated of the company’s productions. High speed acts such as ‘Skipping Ropes’ give a feel of playground high jinks, especially as the entire ensemble gets involved. The act that triggered my own childhood memories of candy floss and big tops was ‘Clown Cinema.’ A bowler hatted director gathers audience members to act in his movie, with plenty of shouting out and prat-falling. It was lovely to see the children in the audience get so excited over this traditional bit of clownery.


Quidam ticks every box for a fabulous circus experience. The acts astonish and inspire as the phenomenally talented acrobats, gymnasts, clowns, jugglers and dancers take to the revolving stage. I felt as though I’d tumbled down the rabbit hole and been transported to a world where graceful figures descend from the sky and people travel by giant hamster wheel. Spectacularly beautiful and grippingly entertaining, Quidam is the show which will please any crowd.


Info: Quidam is at the Royal Albert Hall until February 16, 2014



Related links

Kata Banhegyi – interview, Quidam




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