VOLTA: Cirque du Soleil enthralls under the Big Top

Bicyclists leave ramps and launch themselves into the air in “Volta.” Photo by Matt Beard.

VOLTA: Cirque du Soleil.  Acrobatic Artistry. AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA. 1- 877-924-7783 or www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta.

VOLTA: Cirque du Soleil enthralls under the Big Top.

The PR material states  “A team of more than 60 men and women worked for several hours to pound pegs, unfurl the canvas, and, finally, hoist more than 100 supporting poles to raise the iconic Big Top at AT&T Park in preparation for the San Francisco engagement of its newest Big Top production, VOLTA”

The performance of two hours and 30 minutes with an extended intermission was enthusiastically received by a full house of about 2500 despite the complicated storyline. For Volta they have created a game show host of a popular TV program called “Quid Pro Quo” where the ordinary contestants dressed in grey and carrying the ubiquitous cell phone can “win” to become “Elite” wearing elegant costumes. The protagonist is named Was and has the stigma of being born with blue feathers for hair. His present and past personal image is in tatters. Never fear, before the end of the show he eventually “see the light” as he is symbolically carried aloft by a lamp that descends from “heavens.” There is another group of Free Spirits that help Was to full acceptance of his blue hair.

You really can forget the storyline since the center ring stage is constantly being filled attractive lean acrobatic actors to keep you entertained and thrilled with what appears to be their almost impossible feats.

It starts out with the contestants rope skipping like you’ve never seen before and the winners get to shed their grey costume for royal plumage. When that ends there is some “precision walking” before a lady comes out on roller skates and then a guy comes out on a unicycle and rides around the stage with a woman doing acrobatics on his shoulders before  doing a head stand on his head!

That exclamation point can be added to every athletic feat accomplished by this amazing cast.  In the order listed on the PR sheet there is:   “Rise & Shine” (Trampowall) where the actors jump from a three story scaffold onto trampolines doing intricate flips and twist individually and in sync with each other(s). 

For a change of pace there is a clown act in “Mr. Wow’s Nightmare.” This is followed by the exciting “Daydreaming’ where ramps are place on two sides of the stage and the riders on Flatland BMXs (specially constructed bikes) ride up and down the ramps doing all sorts of fancy flips that are eye-popping. Included in this scene are “Swiss Rings” with two groups performing on the rings that are sent from each side of the stage. Later bungee jumper cords descend for the ceiling and two performers flip, turn, join and separate while doing the ubiquitous twisting and turning.

Act 2 begins with “Leaving the City” where two articulated ladders are set up and two of the performers climb up and begin executing incredible acrobatic figures. This morphs into the stacking of octagonal hoops with the participants flying through each level that gets progressively higher. One wonders whether the miss by one of the tumblers was intentional since he immediately gets up and leaps through the top hoop successfully.

Then there is a strange act where a woman with her hair fashioned into a tight bun is hoisted by her hair while doing athletic precise body movements. After that there is need for humor with the clown doing mime confronts three tricky washing machines while trying to do his laundry. It is an appropriate time a laugh.

There are two more acts before the spectacular finale of five BMX riders using three ramps executing tricks that seem impossible with one where the rider does two 360-degrees in one jump.

This brings out the entire cast for a thunderous curtain call.

This is a must see performance.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy or www.theatreworldim2.com.