Home » London Theatre Reviews » Cirque – The Greatest Show at Curve, Leicester | Review

Cirque – The Greatest Show at Curve, Leicester | Review

There’s not much of a story going on in Cirque – The Greatest Show – there’s even less of a narrative than there is at a panto. I suppose one might be able to look at the performances from an ‘interpretive dance’ perspective, though the family atmosphere on the night I attended called for nothing more and nothing less than ‘sit back and enjoy’. In several appearances throughout the evening, Christian Lee appears as an apparently monochrome character in a monochrome world, with the bright multicoloured costumes of the rest of the company serving as windows into a different world. It’s the essence of Pleasantville, a 1998 teen fantasy motion picture about a black-and-white town where everything is very safe but very boring, until it’s gradually infiltrated by outside influences that turn it into a happier and more enlightened place.

Cirque - The Greatest Show
Cirque – The Greatest Show

The key difference between Cirque and Pleasantville is that Lee’s mime character isn’t fazed by the ‘changes’ and is easily impressed by the world of colour presented to him. Indeed, for all the pops and whizzes of some of the other acts, Lee’s were the most memorable for me, perhaps helped by a couple of audience participants (sit in the front row at this show at your own risk) who were very much up for it – even if it’s too much of a spoiler to reveal what ‘it’ actually involved. That he takes to the stage himself in a late scene is indicative, I think, of the relative rarity that younger people in the audience, who experience so much entertainment through screens, have in terms of engaging with a live show.

I warmed very quickly to the style of singing in this production, nuanced and never overdoing it, which actually meant I could hear and understand what was being sung! It may not appeal, alas, to the sort of musical theatre fans who prefer booming voices and songs to end on a Very Long Note that threatens to proverbially take the roof off the venue. But it goes well with all the dancing and variety performances, with most if not all of the songs having an air of familiarity with much of the audience. It didn’t take long, for instance, to recognise a medley of songs sung and danced to in a way that could only be Moulin Rouge!

A dance producer said to me recently that he thought my comparison of certain dances to washing machine spin cycles seemed to be recurrent in my reviews. I can’t help repeating the imagery here thanks to Duo Eclipse – Steven Smith and Georgia Forster – who describe themselves as an ‘acrobatic roller skating duo’. The pair spun around at a pace that almost made me feel dizzy watching it. They also had incredible on-stage chemistry (and looking at their social media pages it’s clear as to why this is).

Thomas Barrandon impressed the audience with versatility and precision – increasingly complex routines with juggling balls whilst walking up and down a staircase (albeit a short one) was followed some time later with some heartstopping moments involving a crossbow and progressively difficult targets. In the end, it doesn’t do anything other than what it says on the tin, and the fusion of circus and musical theatre is one that works well in this lively and enjoyable production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Christian Lee – Mime Artist
Jennifer Van Gool – Aerialist
Thomas Barrandon – Juggler/Quick Change/Crossbow
Duo Eclipse – Skaters
Billy George – Cyr Wheel
Adam Boom – Fire
Vocalists: Max Fox, Robbie Waugh, Wesley Bromley, Tori Murray, Nikita Coulon, Jamie Long
Dancers: Dione Hassell (Dance Captain/Dancer/Aerialist), Shonagh Leatherbarrow (Dancer/Hand Balancer/Aerialist), Rhys Richards, Stephen Strain, Brogan Paris, Liam Raven, Megan Dawson, Chris Travers

Produced by Entertainers
Co-Producers: James Taylor and Max Fox
Choreographed by Lynsey Brown

It’s time to step into the light and escape for a night in the theatre like no other with Cirque – The Greatest Show.

Enter a world where the very best show stopping songs from the movies The Greatest Showman, LaLa Land, Rocketman and Moulin Rouge! meet jaw-dropping circus acts in a production that is charming and astonishing in equal measure.

West End and movie hits combine with breathtaking circus performances from incredible contortionists, aerialists and illusionists all showcasing thrilling feats of agility and flair.

Welcome to Cirque – The Greatest Show, a new kind of circus musical performed by a company of leading vocalists and dancers that is fun for all the family.

Curve, Leicester
30 May to 2 June 2024, then continues on its 100-day UK tour

Previous review: Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría: In a New Light at the Albert Hall


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