Wednesday marked the beginning of the NFL season. As an avid football fan, the NFL season opener is a day highlighted on my calendar. However, instead of watching the first game of the all-too-brief season this year, I spent it watching a different, but equally enthralling, display of athletic prowess and robot-like precision — the Victoria premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam.
The parallels between these two seemingly disparate worlds are legion. Both are predicated upon incredible feats of strength and determination. The same thrill I get from watching an offensive unit drive a football down the field is present in the spectacle of seeing some 15 physical specimens leap amongst and climb on top of each other, building grandiose human pyramids while moving in perfect unison. The large ensemble’s Banquine act (with origins dating back to the Middle Ages) is just one of the many thrilling displays of human achievement highlighted in Quidam.
The detail involved in each performance, indeed the show as a whole, is staggering. Each performer wears multiple costumes (there are over 250 costumes and 500 accessories on display). A live eight-piece band plays lively music. Groups of performers, from duos to dozens, move as a single unit. Quidam presents an immersive experience that sucks the audience into the fantastic imagination of our adorable protagonist, Zoé.
In the grand tradition of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, the main performances are all spectacular displays of concentration and mastery. Among the show’s many highlights are the breathtaking show of human strength in the Statue performance, the gravity-defying Aerial Contortion display and the incredible communication and agility in the Diabolos, or Chinese yo-yo, performance.
The technical aspects that buoy the show are flat-out perfect. The sound effects and music ripple through the audience. The lights highlight both the incredible depth of colour on-stage and the dramatic elements of the story. Background players move with precise rhythm, furthering the story and helping to create a fully realized world.
Toto Castiñeiras’ wonderful audience participation sequences as The Clown were equal parts delightful and irreverent. He kept the audience cracking up the whole time with a generous helping of slapstick and bawdy humour. The sequences brought an impeccable comedic sensibility that added to the whimsical feeling of the night. They were scenes that brought a necessary grounding to an endlessly imaginative world.
Quidam lives up to the high standards set by all of Cirque du Soleil’s famous output and is fantastic fun for everyone in the audience (and, judging by the smiles on their faces, all involved in the performance as well). Proof of its appeal was all around me as young children laughed and adults gasped, sharing in the wonder and excitement of the protagonist.
Quidam (Cirque du Soleil)
Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre