September 25, 2020

BY HAILEY MERKT

Cirque du Soleil describes their show Varekai as “a captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanted creatures.”

On Jan. 29, hundreds of circus enthusiasts gathered at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton to enjoy an exhilarating two-hour extravaganza.

“The word Varekai means ‘wherever’ in the Romany language of the gypsies … This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai,” the Cirque du Soleil website reads.

Knowing this beautifully broad breakdown prior to the performance, I decided to approach the show with a clear mind — like a blank canvas waiting to be colorfully painted.

I arrived at Copps with just enough time and pocket change to grab a bag of overpriced beer nuts, a guilty pleasure of mine.

Without another delay, I quickly located my tiny, fold-down stadium seat.

Two ill-dressed, modern day clowns, who returned numerous times throughout the show, kicked off the evening with an audience applause challenge.
Surprisingly, about 60 per cent of the seats were unseated, leaving this competition a little lackluster.

However, the comedic act chose to poke fun at this misery by occasionally requesting a round of applause from the empty sections within the stadium, which in turn sparked a lot of laughter and applause. With an audience full of smiling faces, the show was ready to begin.

“From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered,” the Cirque du Soleil website reads.

This elegant description defines the story perfectly.

However, it did not prepare me for the unbelievable talent I was about to witness.

Aside from the extravagant costume design, the wild flips and tricks and the synchronized movements, it was the small things that truly impressed me — the seamless scene changes, the fluid movements and the trust between partners.

Cirque du Soleil gives you a new appreciation for “carnies.”

I felt overwhelmed with wonder while watching the entire show.

Sometimes I found myself gazing past the performers on stage and through a distant thick, lit fog where shadows of cleverly trained creatures could be seen preparing the next act.

The sights and sounds were absolutely outstanding, from the punchy-printed costumes to the live music, which included two opera-like singers and about a dozen brilliant musicians.

My favourite part of the show, if I have to choose just one, would be the spotlight singing clown act.

This performance included Steven, the male clown, singing a heart-wrenching number en français, all the while chasing his wandering spotlight and dressed in an unfashionable two-inches too short tux.

The juxtaposition of the music and the hilarity of the spotlight made for a genius routine.

Sometimes the spotlight would show up too small, too far away or too high, sending Steven on a wild goose chase. But then, just as he’d get to his spotlight, it would reappear somewhere new and totally inconvenient.

Near the end of the show I took a moment to look around and see the rest of the audience’s reaction. Everyone in the stadium was beaming.

Although a Cirque du Soleil ticket typically sells for about $100, depending on the show’s theme and location, I promise this travelling circus is worth seeing at least once. It’s truly a treat for all ages.

For more show and ticket information, check out “www.cirquedusoleil.com.”

Leave a Reply