Friday, December 4, 2009
Cirque du Soleil's 'Ovo': ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ !
Cirque du Soleil has really done it this time. For this reviewer, Cirque performances over the years have been coming to resemble Las Vegas productions with a muscular Bulgarian on a tightrope filling in for Wayne Newton. You witness astonishing physical feats but you always plod out of the tent searching for the closest slot machine.
Not this time, Bunko.
Take the six red ants. Here you see them precision-juggling spinning trash can lids but they also toss each other all over the stage while either on their backs or standing on their hands. It's indescribable, really -- and that's only the second act. They follow the blue dragonfly, who balances on one muscular arm while contorting himself into impossible positions. And everywhere you look, there are green crickets.
The costumes -- you have to wonder about costume designer Liz Vandal. Does she have a thing about sensual bugs? Does she look like this?
No, she looks like this.
And she has created a world, along with director and writer Deborah Colker, that is nothing short of insect ballet. The performers have the most finely-honed circus skills on the planet, but they never let you forget they are bugs. They move around the stage like bugs. They jump like bugs. And on the unforgettable Wall act, which is the performance finale to Act Two, there are twenty of them, running, jumping and tumbling on trampolines as they mount and dismount from a 26-foot vertical wall.
Sadly, there is no photo of the man-woman rope climbing team who manage a sensual pas-de-ropes while many feet off the ground. And we never did find out what kind of insect this guy is, but he looks like a soldier in the army of Genghiz Khan, even when he's balancing precariously on a slack wire.
We cannot imagine a finer Cirque du Soleil. Tickets are not cheap, but they are not unreasonable for such an intensely labor-intensive production. Christmas is here. You might think about motoring up the family cocoon and heading on down to Pac Bell Park.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ !
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Cirque du Soleil's "Ovo" its highest possible rating: Five Stars. No, it's not Hamlet, but you will be moved by the grace of the human body and the ingenuity of the entire production team. You will shake your head and wonder: "Did I just see that? How in the world did he do that?"
After 25 years, Cirque cannot top itself each year, and recently they have not. This time they did. Take your favorite spider and sit down beside her.
*** ONE WORD OF WARNING: THEY DON'T TELL YOU THIS, BUT THERE ARE VIEW-IMPAIRED SEATS IN THE LUXURY SECTION. TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM THE LIGHT STANCHIONS. ***
We sat behind one and could not see everything, and it didn't really matter in the end, but it would be better to be in the center.
*** BONUS QUOTE: "The largest and CLEANEST outdoor rest room I have ever seen!" (The Reviewer's Wife) ***
"Cirque du Soleil's "OVO"
Under the Tent at AT&T Park (Giants' Stadium)
China Basin, San Franciso
Through Jan 24