How do you critique such an established production powerhouse as Cirque du Soleil? Set in the magnificent Royal Albert Hall, Cirque du Soleil’s latest production Totem is a sumptuous celebration of the evolution of humankind – what drives us, nature and the world around us.
That which has brought us from the primordial soup into the fully fledged mobile-phone-wielding present. Balance, seduction, science – themes that have moved us along the path of evolution are unpacked through the dazzling costumes, production design, projections and diverse circus talent that you come to expect from Cirque du Soleil.
Having seen Amaluna some years ago, Totem feels like a far more upbeat, celebratory production by comparison. Though there is less of a protracted storyline to this production, it is to Totem’s benefit – the emphasis on crystalised moments of beauty and skill allow the wealth of talent on stage to soar, figuratively and literally. There is some very intelligent use of blacklight throughout the Royal Albert Hall that offers us new levels of delight for adults and children alike.
Cirque du Soleil are masters of multiplicity – there is never just one thing to look at, one thing to enjoy. The audience are gently integrated into the fun, as distant as we are from the incredible stunts being performed on stage. It is humbling and yet inspiring. Accompanied by live music that is pan-cultural, beyond language, this is a night of pure escapism into another time and place, without specific reference to any one time or place – we feel drawn to all of humanity and nature itself. We are reduced to our essential selves, awe-filled and joyful as children, through the work of this incredible team.
Highlights included the equilibristics displays (the unicyclists, including Bai Xianjie, Wand Jiawen, Wu Yurong, Liu Chen Chen and Ju Qianqian and diabolo juggler, Nico Pires, in particular) as well as the roller-skating duo (Denise Garcia-Sorta and Massimiliano Medini) and the static trapeze pair (Marie-Christine Fornier and Louis-David Simoneau). The trapeze sequence is some of the most touching and romantic acrobatics I have had the pleasure of watching, across the vast amount of circus I’ve seen. The unicyclists lost a single plate in the course of their incredibly complex display – and far from detracting from the act, it reminded me that these perfectly controlled bodies are still, in fact, human. The danger and daring of these performers cannot be overstated, and they move with such precision that it is easy to forget all that has gone into realising the final product.
Totem is a fantastic evening of entertainment and will leave you and your entire family feeling buoyant, inspired and moved.
Review by Christina Care
On an island evoking the shape of a giant turtle, TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of mankind from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. Through a visual and acrobatic language, TOTEM explores the ties that bind man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential. Since its World Premiere in 2010, more than 4.5 million people, in more than 45 cities around the world, have been mesmerised by the unforgettable beauty of TOTEM.
Totem – Cirque Du Soleil Tickets and Dates
ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON
Booking to 25th January 2019