After seeing Quidam in 2000 I had already made up my mind to catch every Cirque Du Soleil show I could. I was too awe struck (with good reason) to write an accurate review of Quidam, but now I'm older, more cynical & have a few more bench marks available for comparison... Nevertheless I still believe that Cirque Du Soleil still put on the greatest show on earth.

Tasj & I went up to London for the weekend. It was Tasj's first Cirque Du Soleil show & was also our first trip to the Royal Albert Hall. There were a few renovations going on outside so I couldn't get a good look at the exterior but I was very impressed with the immense interior. I took the time to look at some of the photographs lining the corridoors surrounding the main hall of the stars who have performed in the famous concert hall. All the famous faces really give a sense of the building's grand history. We found our seats in the centre circle. We were high up & in the centre with a great view, but I think every seat in the house would provide a good view of the stage.

The show began with several of the company's many colourful characters running around the audience picking on people & getting them to copy their actions. I like the 'light entertainment' approach to starting a show as it allows the latecomers to take their seats without causing as much disruption. There was some simple acrobatics, a bit of splashing water & lots of banter in French. Cirque Du Soleil's unconventional clowns are so much more endearing & entertaining than the red & blue variety.

The stage was set draped in a huge white cloth which was cleanly whisked away as if by magic revealing a vast raked stage spreading out from the flat ring in the centre of the hall. In the middle of the ramp was a lit cave where many of the performers would enter & exit the stage. At the top sat the company's live band all dressed in fantastic costumes fitting the show.

The diaboloist was superb, he really used the length & breadth of the stage well with a great repertoire of tricks the best of which was easily a Whip catch straight into an Around the world in front of then behind the body while doing a one armed cartwheel. I can see the coming TWJC diary entry containing a note about someone breaking their arm.

One of the strongest acts of the show was the Boleadoras, more beautifully costumed characters carried on two large red objects which unfolded like flowers into circular platforms. On top of which two girls performed with Bola - ropes with weighted ends which are swung to hit the floor rhythmically. The sound of the bola swung at the stage in all sorts of Cross & Follow variations & their stamping flamenco dance steps echoed round the hall at different pace & rhythms in time with the music. Why can't all poi swingers be that good?

I have never sat so high up in a theatre before so I had my first experience of looking down on an aerial act. Four acrobats were each hoisted up on a trapeze into the gallery where they hooked themselves up into bungee chords. They performed lots of acrobatics both in & out of synch with each other.

The show contained one juggling act seeing a young girl toss & bounce juggling from 3 to 5 silis atop a platform with a small flight of steps wheeled in from backstage. Then bouncing from 6 to 7 - while crouching. Then she walked down the steps while force bouncing 5. Getting back on the platform she was then cheekily thrown an 8th ball by one of the disgruntled characters. Which she managed to bounce juggle in a very low wimpy pattern with a clean finish.

My favourite act of the show was the Russian Swing, surrounded by a huge cast of acrobats clad in outlandish bright costumes they danced & interacted playfully around the centre piece while taking turns to perform ever more spectacular aerial acrobatics such as straight double, tucked triple & twisting somersaults. A single somersault to land on a Russian bar held between a pair of two person stacks & another onto the shoulders of a performer standing on a single stilt held by another performer.

It was a beautiful show, very well put together & extremely tightly choreographed. There was always something to look at ranging from the incidental to the spectacular. The stage is a fantasy world where everything is colourful & wonderful. The characters are walking, talking, living, breathing creatures unlike anything in this world. I can't make up my mind whether this show was equal to Quidam or not. The setting was as spectacular, the make up of the show was just as flawless, the band I thought was better, the costumes were amazing &.. well I might have made up my mind by the time Dralion comes to London next year.

Other shows I have seen by Cirque Du Soleil:

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