Circus on ice: Jugglers and trapeze artists keep us on edge
by David Wylie
There is a moment near the end of the first half of Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal when a game of hockey takes centre ice.
A live guitarist and violinist, perched on a mountain of ice and snow, rock Celtic riffs as the soundtrack for ice skaters performing tricks over ramps. The clown bumbles out dressed as a giant ball and, of course, ends up in the net. The ramped up scene oozes team spirit.
Throughout, Crystal is an enthralling, emotional two hours.
The story follows a young woman who falls through the ice while skating. She sinks into a fantasy world that’s a child-like interpretation of corporate life, youthful play, and finding love.
Crystal is the troupe’s 42nd creation — and its first one on ice. The show toured through the Okanagan, with the high-flying act landing in Penticton for five days at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
It received a standing ovation opening night.
Classic circus acts are performed on the slippery surface, which makes it all seem even more high stakes. The traditional and untraditional elements, like synchronized skating, work well together. They add perhaps a sense of Canadiana, fitting as Cirque is based in La Belle Province, specifically Montreal.
The show is not without its faults. At times the dubbed over narration feels forced and unnecessarily breaks the fourth wall. Emphasis is placed on the storyline, which flows less naturally in the second half. The show ends abruptly, leaving a less than satisfying sense of resolution.
Mainstream pop music is weaved into the show and achieves its intended purpose of heightening the emotional response. However, the remastered songs aren’t as impactful as the live music performances.
Pre-recorded music simply doesn’t compare to a grand piano being skated around the rink or the passionate expressions of live musicians.
Crystal is filled with moments that will make your stomach feel like it’s going to drop through your seat — there really is no circus troupe like Cirque du Soleil. The show also has a way of evoking emotions through tender moments of youthful naivety and idealism and dystopian interpretations of adult realities.
It will freeze and thaw your heart, sometimes simultaneously.
Please check out our pre-show interview with Julie Desmarais from Cirque Du Soleil here as well!