Circus Saltimbanco / Cirque du Soleil Royal Albert Hall
'It isn't a freak show, though sometimes it verges on it'
Underneath the costumes (brightly coloured Lycra bodysuits and some vaguely reminiscent of commedia characters), many of the acts are extremely impressive. The Russian family Tchelnokov are amazing contortionists, though their skills are as bizarre as their presentation of them. The mother and father strike up tableaux of the happy family with their 10-year-old son, before tying him in a knot and using him as a human hula-hoop. It isn't a freak show, though sometimes it verges on it.
Wang Jingmin is a most reckless, graceful tightrope artist who jumps fearlessly about on a wire 50ft in the air with only a frail little red parasol to steady her, then gets out a unicycle and cycles along the wire. A troupe of Chinese pole acrobats leap up, around and in between vertical poles with the choreographic precision of a Buzby Berkeley number and the strange, inhuman agility of a swarm of insects.
But in between these marvels, there are many fey interludes with cutesy, masked creatures, and a thousand fancy lighting cues. Slick and seamless it certainly is, and impressive in a Broadway sort of way. The excited first-night audience rose to their feet in a rapturous ovation. But despite all the rhetoric in the programme ("Spirit and body, shadow and light, between earth and sky" translated into four different languages) there is little here that is truly frightening, truly erotic or in any sense mystical. There are some top-class acts and some dazzling stage effects, but in the interests of a multinational, family show, all the tack, pathos and danger which makes the old circuses so romantic is missing.
n To 21 January. Booking: 0171 589 8212
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.