Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo review at Royal Albert Hall, London – ‘spectacular acts’
I would like to say that with Ovo, Cirque du Soleil have laid an egg, but that would give the wrong impression.
Following an ill-conceived all-female Tempest this is located on firmer ground. Ovo conjures a fantasy world of insects which is interrupted and energised by the arrival of a large egg brought in on the back of the Foreigner, a bluebottle fly.
That’s it for the narrative and it is quite enough. The Cirque dramaturgs have tripped themselves up in the past by attempting to tell too much story; concept is their comfort zone and if they wander too far out of it they become unstuck.
No such problem here. The egg thing is really just a catalyst for the biodiverse acts which are as disciplined and perfect as those of the Chinese State Circus. There is no margin for error though I assume the consequences of a mistake might be less harsh. The synchronisation of the Red Ants’ foot juggling what appear to be large slices of kiwi fruit is visually harmonious and turns exciting when they start juggling each other. A blue Dragonfly performs handstands while twisting his body into extraordinary shapes; he can do with his torso what Regan does with her head in The Exorcist.
The acts never outstay their welcome – just when you wonder how many more spools the Diabolo Firefly is going to juggle on a string he ends with a flourish and departs; two Butterflies dance in the air on aerial straps with whispering eroticism. The gold Scarabs who perform the Russian Cradle sets the blood racing as women fly through the air to be caught by two strong men like human trapezes.
Choreographer/director Deborah Colker directs with plenty of zip although her inter-act dance sequences are woefully lacking in character or invention. Nor was I entirely convinced by the rear wall projections which seem like a cross between a 1970s acid rock music backdrop and an amateur eco movie. And gag is the word for the running gag about a randy bluebottle (the Foreigner again!) in romantic/lustful pursuit of a large Ladybug. The energy dips whenever they appear and aside from being borderline offensive it is desperately unfunny.
But the concluding act in which a horde of Crickets bounce on twin trampolines and appear to walk up the rear wall kicks everything up a notch. The scampering, kinetic pulse of these bouncing creatures is palpable and it is not hard to imagine children demanding trampolines for their next birthday. The garage wall will probably not afford the same traction so don’t try this at home kids.