Review: Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal

John Cain Arena
Until 24 September

Several years ago, I was fortunate to see Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, with performers excelling on, in and above a gigantic swimming pool.

If they can create wonders in water (which they do), surely it is only a small step to freeze that life source and turn it into ice.

I say that because the latest Cirque production to hit Australian shores is none other than Crystal, which is, indeed, set on and above the frozen clear stuff.

Photos by Matt Beard © Cirque du Soleil

Cirque does nothing by halves and the first thing to be said is that these artistes are mighty accomplished skaters who have no shortage of sweet moves.

They leap, jump, somersault, backflip and link up with acrobats overhead.

Figure skating and extreme skating prove to be comfortable bedfellows.

Seven traditional circus acts are incorporated into the two-hour show. They include trapeze, aerial straps, hand balancing and juggling – all, of course, on ice.

Among my favourites is an elongated routine involving the performers skating at speed and over jumps, which ends the first half.

The pretense is a game of ice hockey.

In fact, there are many high points in Crystal – among them, a death-defying routine on a tower of chairs, after interval.

While skating prowess is on show throughout, one scene in particular is devoted to one-upmanship. In other words, anything you can do, I can do better.

The aerial acts are spectacular and what would circus be without a bumbling clown, who is an ever-present force.

Crystal features an outstanding mock “ice castle” with “slides” as an entry and exit point to the ice rink in the middle of the venue.

It doubles as a showcase for the evocative and colourful video images projected onto it throughout the production.

With a frequently present violinist and guitarist to accompany many of the acts, this is also Cirque’s only touring show to incorporate many remastered pop songs.

They include Beyonce’s Halo, U2’s Beautiful Day, Nina Simone’s Sinnerman and Sia’s Chandelier.

But the music bed isn’t restricted to pop, with rock, jazz, folk, chamber and orchestral numbers also part of the repertoire.

One mustn’t overlook some striking costuming, another hallmark of Cirque’s cutting-edge circus-based shows.

The theme of Crystal is a young girl by that name who is disconnected from her family and school and is looking to find her own voice.

So, she skates away and undertakes a series of adventures, discovering her true self.

In one very clever and creative scene early on, Crystal is confronted by a domestic setting, a classroom, a playground and a work environment. All are brilliantly conceived and executed.

Created in 2017, the show has since toured to more than 130 cities.

The 44-strong cast includes three Australians, among 20 countries represented.

Now at John Cain Arena in Melbourne until 27th August, it will play the Adelaide Entertainment Centre from 31st August to 3rd September.

Maintaining its world-renowned reputation for entertainment par excellence, the tour finishes at Perth’s RAC Arena between 15th and 24th of September, 2023.

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Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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