I’m a massive fan of Cirque Du Soleil, and have been to a number of the shows that have run at the Royal Albert Hall, and Battersea, in the big top.
We had the opportunity to get tickets for Delirium at The O2 for last night, so we jumped at the chance, especially as this was the retirement of the two year run of Cirques first Arena based show.
I’d read a few things about the show before heading up to London, and understood that it was ‘different’ to Cirques normal performances.
We had drinks and food at Raan at the O2, which was really fabulous, and then we managed to head into the O2 VIP lounge. The lounge was great, with only a few people in there, no queues, it’s own bar, comfy chairs and room to breathe, we left the queues behind and enjoyed some pre-show drinks before heading up in the private lift to the 4th floor.
The O2 is a 20,000 seater arena, and the setup for the show divided the space basically in half. giving around a 10,000 seat performance. A pretty huge number for anything except a concert.
Delirium is Cirques first foray into the Arena performance space, and to be honest, it’s got it’s draw backs. The show is, if you sat in the right place, a spectacular show of music, light, projection, multi-media and performance. However from the wrong seats, you’re watching something that could become confusing, long, disjointed and a disappointment.
The stage incorporates 540 feet of projection surfaces, the equivalent of four IMAX screens, allowing massive multimedia videos to be projected onto the screens. The main stage also incorporates a massive semi transparent fly-screen that can slide across the stage to allow projections to be show in front of the performers on stage. This allows some very impressive hologram type effects to be shown on the stage. The visual experience of seeing a 120 foot high woman interacting with the performers on stage is or could be quite breathtaking. I also enjoyed the section at the beginning with the 120 odd foot tall doors that opened and closed with similar sized faces peering out into the audience.
I say, could be quite breathtaking, because I feel that Cirque really failed to make the show what it could be. Yes the show is clever, and large scale, but to be honest I think The O2 was too big for the show. In other cities, the custom stage is viewed from both sides, with the audience sat behind, and in front of the flat stage, pulling them to a more central viewpoint, and creating more of a connection with the performance. With the O2 performance, the audience (all 10,000 of them) were seating in front of the stage only. With a stage that is also quite narrow (for the audience size) it means that a lot of the angles don’t work, particularly some of the fly-screen projections that interact with the performers.
Cirque shows are normally a perfectly balanced mixture of music, singing, acrobatics and on stage performance. Delirium concentrates more on the music, containing music, and remixed music from the last 20 years of Cirque shows, many with an additional vocal section laid over the top. This is the closest you’ll probably get to a Cirque Du Soleil rock concert. However the issue is that Cirque isn’t a rock band, it’s not a super group, and it doesn’t pull off the job of trying to be one.
We were very disappointed that a lot of the performance time, two hours with no interval, contained few acrobatic or circus performers compared to other shows, for a 10,000 one performer with a red balance ball doing contact juggling is really not great. The only exceptions were the hula hoop girl, who was both visually excellent, and dynamic enough to hold your attention, and the balance acts half way through.
The rest of the show was slightly confusing, the large screens showing a mixture of multimedia and realtime feeds from stage, and almost hypnotic visual effects, meaning that at times, the biggest thing in your eye line, the 560 foot screens, became the center of attention, and not the on stage performance. I regularly was distracted by audience members getting up and walking round, and drifted from watching to listening, not sure if I was there for the music, or the visuals.
Personally I think any of the existing cirque shows could have worked well in an arena, possibly with a smaller audience, but the new style arena show wasn’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, the show visually was stunning, if you were central to the stage, but it lacked the normal Cirque feel and ambiance.
Maybe it was good that the show retired last night, for me Quidam at the Albert hall next year will be much more of the true Cirque experience for us..Tags: cirque du soleil, delirium, The O2