Cirque’s Saltimbanco impresses but fails to top their more recent shows.
SALTIMBANCO presented by Cirque du Soleil at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay). To August 24. $32-$90. See Continuing, page 71. cirquedusoleil.com. Rating: NNN
Cirque du Soleil take the recycling thing literally by transporting one of their classic shows from the familiar blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau into big-city stadiums like the monstrous Air Canada Centre.
The problem is, when you're the world's biggest name in high-end circus acts and you continually raise the bar, it's hard to astonish with something old.
After the jaw-dropping Wheel Of Death bit from last year's Kooza, the acrobatic stunts in Saltimbanco inevitably feel underwhelming.
There are a few gripping moments, as when two muscular men (Gabor Czivisz and Andrey Zhadan) balance on each other's hands and seem to combine all of the Olympic gymnastics routines in one act. It doesn't hurt that one of them looks like an Eastern European version of Brad Pitt.
In another standout sequence, Luis Lopez and Adriana Pegueroles twirl boleadoras - weight-filled sacks - around their heads and whip them onto the floor to a flamenco beat. It's a novelty act but impeccably executed.
And Amo Gulinello's two clown turns, although a bit drawn out, are impressive because of his repertoire of sound effects and improv skills.
The guy's a walking foley artist.
First performed in 1992, Saltimbanco has an Italian feel that's reflected in the colourful costumes (think commedia dell'arte meets Kids In The Hall's Chicken Lady) and the Nino Rota-style musical score by René Dupéré.
According to the press notes, the show's supposed to have an urban feel, with big poles representing skyscrapers. Uh, whatever. The most urban sequence involves Ivan Do-Duc, whose grandstanding routine on a single bicycle is even more brazen and impossible to fathom than a local bike courier's balletic dash through rush-hour traffic.