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Cirque du Soleil - Quidam
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Quidam at the Tate Modern: some/time - Review by Panayiotis Panayiotou : 13/01/01

It's the first time I've ever seen Cirque du Soleil live. I've seen the show called Saltimbanco on video, which was very good, and then I heard people saying that the next one, Allegria (?), wasn't up to standard.

Anyway, I had very high expectations of Quidam, and I was a bit anxious that I might be disappointed, but I have to say I really enjoyed it and I'd highly recommend it, and I wouldn't say that I'm easily pleased. There were so many impressive acts; so many people doing unbelievable things. During many of the acts there were times when I thought that I'd just seen the finale bit of the act (it was that astounding), but it actually turned to be a bit of a break in the routine before the performers did more stuff.

A quick run through some of the acts: -

Genuinely funny clowns (honest)

Woman who balances on her hands on a rotating stage, then at one point she brings her legs over her head and tucks her feet behind her elbows (amongst other contortions..)

Quite spectacular acrobatics, some of it done on a rotating stage, none of it needing see-saws

Woman on a swinging trapeze, with a somersault

Man juggling footballs, 3 4 and 5 (yes - there's juggling!)

Aerial contortionist in red silk

Man in German wheel (hamster-style)

3 women doing synchronised stuff in aerial hoops

4 Chinese girls combining diabolo and acrobatics - very impressive

People on ropes (they call it "Spanish Webs" in the programme for some reason)

Lots of stuff on skipping ropes, though I thought that the Moscow State Circus did it better

So basically, it was packed with spectacular acts

The theme of the show was supposed to be about the apathy of passers by, or something. I'm afraid the arty-farty meaning of it all was a bit lost on me, but it still looked good. There were lots of bits in-between acts and during acts where other people came on stage and walked about dramatically or danced or whatever and I think this added to it. Instead of having all separate acts, it was more like you were being introduced to or reminded of other performers all the time, I think.

I heard criticisms that the show was played too much to the front, despite the audience extending over 270 degrees around the main stage. My seat was H24, Section 104, which is about 8 metres from the front but right at the side, and I still enjoyed it. I bought the video, not just to check if the view from the front was any better, but I liked the first half so much I decided to buy the video during the interval.

Simon Carter mentioned that his friend "really disliked the attempts to extract his cash at every turn". Well, there was a lot of merchandise on sale, which was probably a bit of a rip-off as well as the refreshments (I'm not used to London prices, though), but it was all avoidable.

I'm not on commission, in case you were wondering...

Pan

Was that OK?

2001 Luke Burrage