By Valaura Vedan
Quidam is the third Cirque du Soleil show to descend upon Kelowna, and if the audience reaction this past Thursday evening was any indication, the Kelowna shows have been a success. The audience on Thursday night laughed, cheered, and gasped in awe as Cirque du Soleil took us on a journey with a young girl named Zoe. Zoe is a young girl who feels neglected and ignored by her parents and slips into an imaginary world of wonder and awe. While in this fantasy land, Zoe meets a host of characters who help her discover her own sense of individuality.
Quidam is a show designed for all ages and it appears that the crowd got the message, with young children mingling with those in their 80's. There really was something for everyone, and the young child who was seated behind me could be heard laughing several times throughout the evening as the clown lured audience members on stage to participate in his sketches. While some hesitated at first, half a stadium of people cheered at the clown's command until they agreed to temporarily join the cast. Kudos to those five people for their complete participation and putting on quite the performances themselves. There must be some kind of magic at the Cirque du Soleil shows, as I've heard that the audience participants at other shows were also good sports and quite enthusiastic.
It's this kind of audience involvement that hearkens back to Cirque du Soleil's beginnings as a group of 20 street performers. Street performers are known to maintain consistent levels of comedy and audience participation during their execution of wild tricks and talents, and this theme runs through into Quidam. Quidam is one part comedy, one part theatre, and one part jaw-dropping stunts and tricks. As my friend stated, “It's basically [like] watching Olympians on the stage”, and I have to say that isn't far off. The skill and athleticism that these artists/athletes maintain is inspiring, as is their dedication and the level of training that they commit to.
One of my favourite acts from the night was what Cirque du Soleil has named, Statue. Statue is comprised of a couple, male and female, whose physical shape alone emitted gasps from the crowd. The couple maintains contact throughout their performance, as they shift their bodies into obscure forms that one would think impossible. It is only their incredible strength, flexibility, and sense of balance that make their positions possible. While one could not possibly ignore the physicality of their performance, it is important to note that it was just that. Performance. Statue really was a snippet of theatre in the midst of the Quidam show.
Earlier in the show, a woman performed a beautiful aerial contortion performance, using reams of red silk. She moved with grace and strength as her pale form contrasted perfectly with the crimson of her silks. Set to haunting music, this was yet another of those moments that Cirque du Soleil does so well. They always blend athleticism with theatre in the most seamless way.
But as my previous conversation with skipper, Adrienn Banhegyi, revealed, the shows do not always go off without a hitch. The Banquine act is composed of fifteen agile and acrobatic performers. During one of their final displays of breathtaking acrobatics, things didn't go off quite as planned. A launch was ever so slightly off, and the performers were forced to break formation. They quickly regrouped, before the audience really had the opportunity to realize that something was amiss. They tried it again, without the second (successful) attempt ever looking out of place and a petite woman was then stood a top a man's shoulders in what is likely a dangerous and highly skilled position (I won't reveal too much...). Kevin Jesuino later said, “I love their “Fail. Do it 'til you get it” attitude. Day in, day out.” and Vincent Jones commented, “[That's] a great lesson for everyone watching”.
It is clear that the people who are a part of Cirque du Soleil are passionate about what they do. In fact, if you have the opportunity to see Quidam, I suggest you take it, and while the music is loud and raucous, take a look at the sound booth facing the stage. The gentleman who is behind the sound board is so passionate about the music that he is a part of, it's infectious. If a great classical composer merged with a rock star, you would have this gentleman. Keep an eye out for him, for an expected treat and a reminder of the 52 people who are a part of Quidam behind the scenes. They love what they do too.
Quidam was the first live Cirque du Soleil show that I have had the pleasure of seeing, and I can not say enough good things about it. From start to finish, the show was breathtaking and constantly engaging. The show is also designed as a series of shorter vignettes which makes it ideal for children as their attention is held captive the entire time. Quidam is an experience like no other, and I only hope that all of you should be so lucky as to take in something of it's splendour within your lives. Add it to the bucket list.