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Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai review at Sheffield Arena – ‘impressive feats’

Varekai at Sheffield Arena. Photo: Perla Global Media
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Its lofty claim is to be “an inspired incantation to a life rediscovered.” But the first UK arena tour of one of Cirque du Soleil’s typical global extravaganzas turns out to rely mostly on inspired old-fashioned circus skills and thrills.

Yes, there’s an overall theme of flight, beginning with a broken-winged Icarus skydiving into a steamy forest where mythical creatures cavort, plummet to earth or emerge from the soil to create amazing choreographed interlinking sequences, dominated by a nutty scientist and a gibberish-speaking Guide with a lightbulb on his head.

And regulation Cirque chic is achieved in the fantastical costuming, spectacular lighting effects and wall-to-wall music, making Dominic Champagne’s arena production appear fresh and ready to travel the UK and Ireland, even though it has been seen here twice before at the Albert Hall.

This time there are some new performers on board, and it’s the line-up of acro-gymnasts and balancing and aerial acts that provide the oohs and aahs without a health a safety net, and even a nostalgic whiff of big top sawdust, including Fernando Miro’s graceful suspended net work and twin aerialists Oleksii Kozakov and Aleksandr Romashyn soaring above the crowd suspended by aerial straps. But the two clowns, Emily Carragher and Sean Kempton, are so uninspiring they barely raise a titter.

In true Barnum and Bailey style, the most spectacular act is saved till last – a troupe of somersaulting gymnasts giving a display of split-second bravado on two Russian swings. Now that’s what you call inspired.

 

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Verdict
High production values, but it’s the incredible feats of strength and skill that steal the show
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