Cirque du Soleil
Concord Pacific Place (across from BC Place)
June 22-July 23
$54-$220 at 1-800-361-4595
Varekai is phenomenal. It’s way better the last year’s Quidam, though not as good as O, one of the Cirque shows in Las Vegas and one of the most amazing shows of any kind that I have ever seen. Varekai isn’t really theatre—the plot or structure or story, such as it is, is so slight as to be irrelevant (it has something to do with Icarus). But that doesn’t matter at all. It’s a spectacular entertainment. I’d compare it to the Olympics; it’s a testimonial to the astonishing things the human body is capable of doing.
The first act is very good but the second act is great. In the huge air conditioned tent (bring a sweater or jacket), lizard-like creatures crawl around with folks from Alice in Wonderland on Mars, joined later by Orc-like beasts and more—the costuming is fantastic. Icarian acrobats juggle each other with their feet. Three little Asian kids do amazing things with ropes. There’s a remarkable triple trapeze act involving four women, followed by Georgian dancers who spin faster than you can believe. My only complaint, which I also had last year, is that the clowning is pretty lame and goes on too long, although the clown act after intermission makes up for it. It’s an old chestnut—a singer keeps trying to stay in a spotlight which won’t stay still for him—but very funny.
Four of the post-intermission acts are each, by themselves, nearly worth the rather steep price of admission. A brother act, two guys on aerial straps, is breathtaking. The finale, a dozen Russian guys launching themselves from swings, is exhilarating. A female contortionist who twists her body into unbelievable shapes while balancing with her hands on canes—she doesn’t appear to have a backbone—is incredible and actually scary. But the topper for me is a juggler named Octavio Alegria. He does some things that just do not seem as if they should be possible. One example: juggling five rubber balls, he at one point juggles three with one hand while spinning a fourth on the finger of his other hand, then flips the fifth with his foot so that it lands on top of the spinning ball and starts spinning itself. And I can’t even really describe what he does with ping pong balls using his hands, his head, and his mouth.
Warning: in addition to the cost of tickets, parking on site costs $20 and it takes forever to get out of the lot when the show ends. But you’ll see things there that you won’t see anywhere else in the world—except at another Cirque du Soleil show.