Thursday, June 12, 2014

'Le Noir' by Cirque du Soleil at MBS in Review

Billed as 'The intimate side of Cirque du Soleil', Le Noir impressed tremendously with its incredible acrobatics, humorous audience interaction and pared down presentation.

Split into several segments, the ensemble cast strut onstage at the start of each set, setting an atmosphere with their whimsical props and colour coordinated costumes. Our attention is soon drawn onto a single or pair of performers, who would perform a series of stunts involving suspended hoops, stretch bands and rollers, each stunt more difficult than the next, building up into a seemingly impossible final stunt that is invariably pulled off with well rehearsed panache.

Humour relief came at the Ringmaster who goaded members of the audience into performing hilarious acts onstage. At one point, unbeknownst to the foreign talent, radio DJs Jean Danker and Glenn Ong were goaded into giving unrehearsed cameos.

True to the promise of it's tagline, this show is unique for it's sense of intimacy in presenting acrobatics; rather than attempting to overwhelm the audiences' senses, our attention is drawn to one individual or pair of performers at a time, allowing us to fully appreciate every detail of their incredibly difficult routines, rather than be distracted by all manner of stage business. Where touring productions go, this one is on the sparer side of things, but one put together with such imagination that one marvels at its beautiful simplicity.

However, one complain is that the thumping dance music played during entrance and intermission is much too loud. I had the same thoughts while watching Grease earlier this year; I really don't need to feel every high note or guitar riff ringing in my ears and vibrating on my chest. Given how sophisticated the sound system of the Mastercard Theatre is, it shouldn't cause any less enjoyment to have the volume turned down just a tad.

The grand finale (pictured above), with a huge metal set-up spun on a vertical axis by the momentum of two acrobats running inside the circular space, was the most jaw-dropping act of all. That the two storey high rig was spinning across the stage, while the acrobats jumped, ran, spun and did just about everything to remain inside and on top of it, was breathtaking in every sense of the word.

As a concert and theatre geek, this show may not have registered on my radar previously, but having caught it now I recommend it full-heartedly. Le Noir is not to be missed!

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