Review: Cirque du Soleil's Luzia (Royal Albert Hall)
The Canadian entertainment company returns to London for their 35th anniversary
A triumph in international circus performance for 35 years, Cirque du Soleil comes to the prestigious Royal Albert Hall with their 2016 show Luzia: A waking dream of Mexico. With the title fusing together the Spanish words for ‘light' and ‘rain', the company have created a beautiful spectacle which is not only filled with incredible acts – contortionists and jugglers are just the start – but looks simply stunning, too.
Eugenio Caballero's set design – at least to begin with – features a huge sphere at the back of the stage onto which images are projected (Johnny Ranger), from a sharks swimming to blooming flowers and butterflies. Orange flowers decorate the revolving part of the stage alongside a tempting key which, once turned, starts the action. Throughout the show the visuals become even more spectacular, from the galloping silver horse and graceful tiger (puppet design by Max Humphries) to the orange birdcage fabric which surrounds the stage at the close of act one, the lights inside projecting gorgeous shapes around the auditorium.
The biggest element to this production is rainfall. First used during a mesmerising trapeze act, the water later cascades down in the shapes of the story we've just seen, showing us birds, flowers and the key. Martin Labrecque's lighting design must be commended here as it shimmers so beautifully. The water's standout use is, strangely, during a clowning routine where Fool Koller attempts to fill up his flask (a thread throughout the show) and is constantly thwarted as the water cheekily pours around and over him, but never into the flask. This cat-and-mouse game captures the audiences' hearts and marries a traditional circus routine with a high-budget set piece wonderfully.
From balancing acts to skilled tumblers jumping through hoops dressed as birds, there are plenty of high-octane stunts for everyone; Stephen Brine's aerial strap work, swinging and stretching on a singular rope over a clear blue pool, has a distinct Life of Pi image to it as the tiger looks on. Acts involving swings (sometimes two!) are real heart-in-the mouth moments, as the audience prays that the performers flipping from one to the other will land. Of course, they always do. There are moments of comedy too, such as three performers dressed as cactuses running across the stage trying to take photos.
Between captivating moments and big stunts, there are segments where it's difficult to know where to look as there is so much happening on stage, around the audience and in the air. Luzia really is a feast for the eyes, and the perfect entertainment to brighten up the dull winter months.