The circus troupe Cirque du Soleil is now an international touring multifranchise, so that what seemed sizzlingly avant-garde in mid-Eighties Quebec has acquired the globally anonymous patina of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. We no longer expect elephants in a circus, but we might expect rather more astonishing feats of human skill than this uneven show provides.
Not that there are not wonders. A beauteous elf in a sprayed-on luminous green leotard does quite remarkable things with steel hula-hoops, spinning one around her toes, casually held above her head, while others snake round her waist or shins. And a bevy of tumbling acrobats perform synchronised bouncy falls and a snowboarding competition's quota of mid-air spins. But a man on a trapeze, in a Spiderman outfit from which somebody cruelly ripped the sleeves, does little more than swing about a bit.
The less-than-amazing Cube Man, meanwhile, pulls himself up on suspended rings while his toes carry, er, a big cube. A "Polynesian artist" spins a few flaming sticks.
One disappointment of Alegria is its po-facedness. Ordinary actions are done in a bizarre, debased ballet style, and there is a lot of pointless running about with stiff arms by the large supporting cast. Occasionally an act is gently mocked afterwards: after Mr Polynesian Fire Artist, a sad-faced clown played nervously with a candle.
The gigantism of the presentation dwarfed the really good acts. But Alegria did boast one fine element: the music, an alternately melancholic, humorous and adrenaline-pumping blend of French tango, jazz and balladry. Only in Francophone hands can cheesy string synthesizers sound even vaguely cool nowadays.Reuse content