Wade on Birmingham

Circus minimus

By

Far too much dancing, not nearly enough prancing.

Cirque du Soleil has brought its artsy acrobatics for a two-night performance at the BJCC Arena, but with a heavier emphasis on music and choreography. Is its road show “Delirium” an arena event or Cirque lite?

A Cirque du Soleil show can inspire joy and wonder at the human dynamic. “Mystère,” one of the group’s permanent shows in Las Vegas, is a carnival of flying, tumbling, twirling and tossing.

At Thursday’s performance, such feats were almost a sideshow in the musical extravaganza.

“Delirium,” while visually enchanting, leaves out much of that gravity-defying athleticism for singing and dancing. The songs are a mishmash of language and upbeat New Age arrangements. For a show that emphasizes the soundtrack, it tends to run together after a few numbers.

Cirque is a re-invented circus, and in this iteration, the three rings have been replaced with a long elevated runway, providing a widescreen visual (and eliminating viable seats at both ends of the arena). While floor seats provided the closest view, they seemed to lose the most in visual spectacle. We watched from the upper level and had no trouble taking in the whole affair.

Musical performers wander the set and provide the nonstop sounds for the two-hour show. Woven in are projected live and taped segments to create a world that blossoms instantly, or parades models from the old Obsession perfume ads.

The multimedia show almost runs over the cast on sheer enormity. It is both stunning and surreal, but we couldn’t help but feel we were watching a computer screen saver at times, rather than a live stage show.

The acrobatics, when used, ranged from the incredible to the mundane. Sometimes the simplest act — four men at center stage, one balanced by placing his hand on another’s head — was the most engaging. The singles and pairs swinging out over the audience on lights were almost sub-par for a regular circus.

The energy waned when songs took the spotlight, even with high-powered vocalists and an especially capable drum corps. Couldn’t they have provided some tumbling or balancing during these spots, too?

In the end, “Delirium” is still a Cirque show, complete with fantastical costumes and other-worldly storytelling. If you plan on going (and we don’t expect a sellout based on Thursday’s limited crowds), get your ticket at the box office and skip the floor seats.

Or better yet, save your money and see Cirque in Vegas. After all, no one goes to the traditional circus just to hear the band play.

Opening act Nitza provided a haunting 20-minute set, singing Far East-tinged melodies, not unlike the music of the main show.

1 Yip for “Circus minimus”

  1. » Entendres, double and single | Wade Kwon | wadekwon.com
    Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 5:50 pm
    1

    [...] “Circus minimus,” a review of traveling Cirque du Soleil show “Delirium” Share: [...]

Leave a Yip

Subscribe without commenting