Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia is a joyful whirl through a psychedelic Mexico, which reminds us why live theatre is so special.
Anyone who goes to the theatre will wonder at some point why they bother. No, not the audience – the performers. Why rehearse for weeks a play, opera, ballet, circus production, so that you can perform the same thing night after night? We have film these days, to capture the show and allow anyone and everyone to watch it whenever and wherever they want. And yet still we flock to theatres to watch people inhabiting characters, transporting us to other places, with the subtlest of hints of location, time of day, weather.
Luzia is the perfect answer to this question.
None of us were in Mexico last night, but all of us felt some of the raw emotions experienced by the creatives and cast when they journeyed to Central America to try to bottle their waking dream to bring it back to us. From the hummingbirds fluttering and flying through hoops, to the desert sun, captured in the form of spinning Cyr wheels, from Pok-Ta-Pok, with its stunning keepy-uppy ball skills, to the daredevil Luchadores wrestlers, our senses feast on a non-step adrenaline rush.
After months of watching Netflix, meeting friends on Zoom, and trying to keep the same daily walk fresh, I’m hungry for real-life performance, and that feeling that a whole world is being evoked just for me, at least in this moment (and sure, I guess for a few others also present in the stunning beauty of the Royal Albert Hall). But with circus, it is, of course, more than that. When someone is – live – leaping from one Russian swing to another, and doing a somersault in between, the risk is very real, and the tension palpable. And yes, the occasional juggling club gets dropped, someone trips on their landing and has to be caught by their colleagues – because this is actually happening in front of us, right now.
Simon Carpentier’s score can’t be ignored, offering a heartbeat that stays with me long after the curtain call, nor Eugenio Caballero’s set design, which includes a special effect with falling water that joyfully defies belief and threatens to overshadow the human performances.
It’s hard to pick out favourite acts. Cylios Pytlak’s speed juggling defies any attempt to squeeze what I see into my comprehension. Stephen Brine’s aerial straps dancing is bold and evocative, and with its wet hair flicking, frankly erotically-charged. Aleksei Goloborodko has a contortion routine that makes me nauseous in a can’t-look-away kind of way. But picking out individual performances would be to mislead, not least because it ignores those tricks that can only be performed by multiple bodies catapulting through the air at once. This is an ensemble piece – everyone right here in the arena together.
If ever you doubt the importance of live, unmediated showbusiness, head to Luzia: a Waking Dream of Mexico, and let Cirque du Soleil transport you to worlds that – sorry – your television simply cannot.
Review by Ben Ross
The Cirque du Soleil sun is rising!
The intermission is over: Cirque du Soleil will reopen their dazzling luminous spectacle, LUZIA, at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2022.
LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul.
With a surrealistic series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL PRESENTS
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – LUZIA
A WAKING DREAM OF MEXICO
Wednesday 12 January – Sunday 27 February 2022