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Theatre Review: Le Noir The Dark Side of Cirque

Sydney Lyric Theatre

Reviewed by Ron Hylton Lee, CSP

From the Cirque du Soleil family comes the Readers’ Digest version, and it’s playing in Sydney.

The performance area is a small, round platform set on the Sydney Lyric Theatre stage, with the rest of the stage being occupied by audience members.

Compared with other Cirque du Soleil productions that I’ve seen around the world, this one is more like a tribute to theming rather than a fully-themed spectacular, a minimalist version that had a limited time for preparation.

When circus master/em cee/clown, Salvador Salangsang entered to open the show, I was sure it was Rugby League player Jonathan Thurston, and he began with some audience involvement that could best be described as awkward - for the participants, not the performer. It gave me the same feeling as watching Tony Abbott trying to be funny.

In the first half, the acts included the aerial hoop, the silk drape duet and two skaters going very fast on a small area. There was also a juggler spinning shiny metal tubing in the shapes of a triangle, a pyramid and a cube, and catching the coloured lights. They were all very well performed with brilliant skills, but it was nothing more and nothing less than you’d expect from Cirque du Soleil.

An irritating aspect of the show was the blinding beam of intense light that frequently assaulted the eyes from the upstage doorway. It made it impossible to watch the stage. This part was clearly not well thought out.

I perked up in the second act when the second-last act came on. Gediminas Pavlovicius, with a powerful stage presence, performed his Rolla Bolla routine. It was a teeter board on top of six metal cylinders. Some cylinders were placed vertically and others horizontally at different angles. He climbed up to the top, balanced on the teeter board, then rolled the whole thing onto another base cylinder. It looked impossible, and he did it superbly.

Then came the final act, The Colombian Wheel of Death which consisted of two, two metre in diameter, caged cylinders joined by a large piece of scaffolding. As the scaffolding rotated, the pair of impressively agile performers defied gravity and provided a fast-paced, breath-taking experience. Another appealing part of this act was the huge apparatus’ proximity to the audience.

If you haven’t experienced Cirque du Soleil before, this could be a suitable introduction, although I got the impression that when devising Le Noir, the company might have been resting on its laurels and thinking that people might show up based on reputation. Never-the-less, you won't see better circus skills than in this.

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