This was our third Cirque De Soleil show at Nottingham Motorpoint Arena, having previously seen Allegra and Varekai. As the lights dimmed my son turned to me with a slight tension in his voice and asked “What’s this about?” and I was immediately reminded of our last trip.
Varekai stimulated some the brilliant conversations, my then 8yo son enjoyed the circus skills but also spent the entire show trying to get to the bottom of the show’s meaning. The drama teacher in me absolutely loved it, the parent found it a little tricky explaining to him that we couldn’t talk all the way through it.
OVO is quite different, it’s theme is less cerebral, it hits on a much more sensory level. We loved the way it takes the audience into an insect world. The giant close up projections and insect habits immediately give a wonderful new scale to the performers who are dressed, quite spectacularly, as insects. The insect theme gives so much scope for experimentation with movement.
The butterly emerging from a giant chrysalis suspended from the Arena roof hit me at a totally primitive, emotional level, it was spellbindingly beautiful, even with my 9yo hissing in my ear ‘is she butt naked??!!’ and me explaining what a flesh leopard is. As the butterfly fluttered in giant circles around the stage on silks I was utterly mesmerised.
The imitation of insect movement was incredible, a performer on a slack rope so beautifully conjured a spider I almost forgot I was watching a human.
I love the mix of circus and storytelling in Cirque productions. OVO has the familiar Cirque structure of incredible circus acts linked by lead characters. The lady bug and the blue bottle are the circus clowns if you like, they have a little love themed story and at points involve audience members to create jealousy and lots of giggles.
Cirque’s circus skills never fail to disappoint, highlights for us were the diablo spinner who had four giant diablos on the go. My kids both dabble and rediscovered their diablo love at Camp Bestival, and loved seeing this.
Before the interval and as a finale Cirque generally has an incredible display of trapeze and acrobatics. The performers are flawless and their bravery is breathtaking. As an army of beetle like men fling their lady bugs between three trapezes or a Russian cradle, it’s hard to remember to breathe.
And then one fell.
But Cirque always include a moment like this, as if to remind you just how jaw droopingly unbelievable their feats are. One by one the acrobats dropped like flies to the safety net, bouncing up and posing with proud grins, to show the fall was intentional.
The finale was like being inside one of those computer generated animations like Ants, once again I had to remind myself I was watching actual humans as the acrobats flew from a trampoline and landed in formation effortlessly, like flies, onto a climbing wall. Yes you read that right, trampling onto a climbing wall!
Then they dropped from the top of the giant climbing wall and bounced back up to the top, completely unmoved by their flight through the air, large eyes boring straight back into the audience like flies, fists on hips like miniature superheroes.
Every Cirque show delights in a different way, so in answer to my youngest’s question I would say OVO is about suspending your disbelief, taking a shrinking potion and seeing the world from an insect perspective. And cutting edge circus skills of course, that is absolutely guaranteed.
My 12 year old took in OVO just as she did Vareki, in a happy sleepy dream like state, a bowl full of soul food. At the end she pronounced it all absolutely fantastic and gave me the biggest thank you for taking her.
I felt like it nourished my soul too and it took me out of my head in a week that had been fraught with back to school and work. It was lovely to see our family sat in a row, snuggled up, smiling and eyes lit up, sharing a truly magical experience.
I think we all need more theatre and performance in our lives.
Nottingham Motorpoint Arena has had a facelift since my last visit, the food and drink stalls are much more appealing and welcoming, with lower, more pub like bars, more colour and variety of snacks. The donut stand was very cute! Big shout out to the staff who were really hardworking and eager to help.
Cirque de Soleil OVO is touring, click the link for more information on tickets for Cirque OVO. There is still time to catch it in Manchester, Birmingham Leeds, Belfast and Dublin before it moves on to France, Spain and Portugal.
Disclosure – Our tickets were gifted, thoughts and opinions remain our own.