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Cirque Du Ciel - ShangHi (Tour – Liverpool)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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And it would have been a two-star rating I’m afraid, but the exceptionally skilled performers are the stars in a messily conceived show. You may be expecting something dazzling (particularly if you are thinking Cirque du Soleil…), but this was not it: music too loud; background videos a distraction and badly photographed; far too much faffing about with actions and gestures which seem to serve no purpose whatsoever. Not to mention a puzzling story line, each act linked by a young lady with a toy box, running around apparently in as much confusion as the audience.

It’s a bare stage with an incredibly energetic drummer in one corner, props and equipment brought on for each showcase, from hats to hoops. But…seen one circus, seen them all: the juggling; the diabolo, the tumbling; the balancing; the shimmying up ropes or poles or huge swathes of material.

Interspersed with an accomplished, acrobatic ballet which seemed fitting, there was another scene which was rather out of place: reminiscent of parkour, the acrobats had all the charm of urban rappers, glittering costumes swapped for hoodies and shorts. The macho gestures and posing ended every stunt, which was rather unfortunate a couple of times when it did not quite come off.

In fairness, the finale is quite spectacular if not exactly the climax to a remarkable show: two alarmingly elastic long wooden poles tower up to the ceiling with young men, some of whom seem barely teenaged, swarming and sliding up and down, diving and somersaulting.

Technically excellent, this show has received many good reviews, but personally, it seemed to be too long winded to offer the breathless excitement anticipated.

- Carole Baldock


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