Cirque du Soleil


June 4, 2009

The show starts on the X80 bus at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street.

It has the feel of a camp bus.  Groups are animated and chatty and looking forward.  Laughter and enthusiasm not found on regular public transportation.

The next event is coming into sight of the festive blue and yellow tent a minute or so after you arrive on Randall’s Island.  The bigtop is a splash of color on the natural, undeveloped landscape. 

The show begins unobtrusively ten minutes before eight.  The clowns – not your usual big-red-nose sort, but definitely clowns, begin to mingle through the audience, catching your attention before you realize the show has even begun.  Then promptly at eight, the ringmaster clown calls for attention and, with a series of bumbling good-natured attempts to gain control, introduces the first act.

I have to wonder what the other worldwide versions of Cirque do for talent because these acrobats have to be the best in the world.  While two daredevils were putting the Wheel of Death through its paces, I wanted to cover my eyes, but couldn’t make my hands move off my cheeks.  The jumps and tumbles from on high while rotating on the twin hooped tracks were astonishing and absolutely justified the name of the apparatus.  Not just a hyped name either;  performers have been killed riding this deadly monster.

Two women with no spines balanced on and around each other in impossible feats of contortion that drew gasps from the crowd and surely from this reviewer.

If you think that riding a unicycle and walking the high wire aren’t difficult enough, you must see what these artists do with them.  If you think just plain juggling is a feat, you ain’t seen nothing yet. 

The clowns regularly involved the audience and we felt very much part of the show. 

And there are no animals.  No elephants prodded into performing unnatural acts.  No big cats who wish they were someplace else.  Just one clown in a dog suit.  Kudos.

You can best appreciate the good in contrast with the bad, and there is always room for captiousness.  The popcorn was too salty and the confetti cannon didn’t fire into our section.  There I’ve said it.  Not perfect. 

But the best darn circus I have ever seen.