Cirque du Soleil is arguably one of Canada’s biggest successes in the realm of art and theatre; its magical spirit has captured the attention of Canadians and people all over the world. I was fortunate enough to get to see the current show, Amaluna, in Toronto. Of the three Cirque shows I have now seen, this one is by far my favourite.
Normally, the majority of the entertainers in Cirque du Soleil are male. For this show, Guy Laliberté, the owner of Cirque du Soleil, specifically requested that the actors be predominantly women. Even the part-traditional, part-contemporary band—whose epic tunes perfectly complemented and enriched the performances—was entirely composed of women.
Amaluna was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a play that deals with inseparable romance. Diane Paulus, the director of Amaluna, was able to intertwine the artistic characters of Cirque du Soleil with the romantic feel of The Tempest. In fact, my favourite act of the show was when the two lovers finally got to be together, which took place in and around an elevated pool of water. Performer Iuliia Mykhailova balanced on one hand on a post above the pool, which requires incredible strength. This scene shines with flirtation and sexual tension as the two actors connect, clearly drawing inspiration from Shakespeare’s play.
The first half of the show was definitely the livelier one. It started off with the clown, Pepa Plana, who made hysterically entertaining appearances throughout the show. Her appearances kept the crowd tuned in, covering over the duller moments of the show with her daftness and charm.
My only criticism of the show is of a scene in the second half: actress Lara Jacobs slowly created a sculpture by balancing 13 palm leaf ribs on her hand, then on her head, finally setting them on top of another rib poised on the ground. When the final product was revealed, I saw that what she had done was certainly incredible, but the suspense and time leading up to it were far too drawn-out. If there had even been something happening in the background to distract from the excruciating buildup, it would have kept up the momentum of the otherwise energy-filled show.
Nevertheless, as a whole, Amaluna was an utterly fantastic show that left the crowd in awe and suspense. It is going to be more than challenging for Cirque du Soleil to come up with a show that will outdo this one. If I could say one thing to the cast of Amaluna, it would be: “Encore!”