|Cast||John Gilkey Franco Dragone Chris Lashua Isabelle Chasse Konstantine Besschetnyj Tatiana Gousarova Yelena Kolesnikova Oleg Ouchakov Dmitro Sidorenko Aleksandr Majorov Konstantin Zakharenko|
|Plot||... search for Cirque du Soleil: Quidam on IMDb|
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|When Cirque du Soleil first ventured beyond Canada's borders, its powerful, singularly ambitious "reinvention of the circus" seemed quixotic. Inspired by European precedents, this was a big top downsized to a more intimate, single ring, as the French-Canadian troupe jettisoned animals, banished the usual fright-wigged clowns in favor of funny folks versed in (gulp) pantomime, and focused on acrobats, contortionists, and illusionists. Conventional wisdom would have held that such esoterica was doomed, but anyone lucky enough to catch that initial Cirque production (or, for that matter, any of its subsequent offerings) knows just how wrong conventional wisdom can be.|
Cirque's creative brain trust, including "guide" Guy Laliberte and director Franco Dragone, have crafted each production as an extended performance piece framed by recurrent characters, unified production design, and underlying themes. Already mesmerizing visual tableaux and astonishing illusions are given an added poignancy (and, occasionally, true gravity) by the productions' underlying comments about society, conformity, beauty, and emotion; even without such conscious motifs, however, Cirque's sheer artistry is never less than riveting.
Quidam revolves around an Everychild, living with self-absorbed (and deliberately archetypal) parents, who's whisked away to a vividly surreal world where Cirque's remarkable acrobats and artists take literal flight. Their tools are often prosaic--oversized flying rings, an open steel wheel large enough for a single inhabitant, skateboards, ropes--yet the resulting images are stunning. Injecting further drama and atmosphere is the score (here by musical director Benoit Jutras), which is as far removed from traditional circus music as Cirque's "acts" are from Barnum & Bailey. Performed with synthesizers, electric guitar, solo reed instruments, percussion, and voice (often singing in a kind of Esperanto that's tantalizing yet foreign), Cirque's music can be dismissed as New Age only until heard in its intended context.
Like three earlier video productions, Quidam can't quite achieve the sheer, enveloping wonder that its theatrical source does. But for fans of Cirque du Soleil's unique performance art, this latest presentation sustains the troupe's magic. --Sam Sutherland
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