Cirque Du Soleil's Saltimbanco caused a sensation when it first appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in 1996, its mesmeric blend of breathtaking physical ingenuity and vibrant joie de vivre rightly wowing one and all. Seven years on, the question is does it still possess the same magic?
Unequivocally, it'd have to be yes. Cirque's origins are modest and inevitably its recent rise into a global phenomenon have led to hype accompanying every show it presents, but Saltimbanco happily retains most of the engaging appeal that first swept it to success. For those yet to experience its dynamic energy, envisage a blend of commedia dell' arte & virtuoso acrobatics set to an original soundtrack.. Add a welcome dash of irreverence, and you've got a unique type of performance concept that defies easy categorisation.
With a show so inventive one can only marvel at the feats these performers accomplish and enjoy the humour with which they defy physical limitation, whether it's the aerial elegance of the trapeze twins, the good-natured fun of the Russian swing that sees clowns hurtling into the cavernous dome of the Hall, or the beautiful bungee ballet which provides the show's graceful conclusion.
There are many moments of simple grace and precision fused with others of madcap exhileration; it's an explosion of riotous colour that manages to enchant most who see it, not because it's aiming at bland neutrality but because its inherently uplifting spirit is well nigh irresistible. Some might demur at the length of time filled by the clown sequences or remain impervious to the music on offer, but the only serious caveat is the prohibitive prices which need revision; the show itself still sparkles brightly.
Notices from the popular press....
CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "The individual acts are sensational, but almost everything else stinks."SARAH FRATER for EVENING STANDARD says, "The Canadian circus troupe is a spectacular company." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Soleil’s great achievement is once again to create its own world, suck you into it." LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "it's bigger, slicker and more spectacular than ever."
External links to full reviews from newspapers