You must be truly, madly crackers to devise some of the contraptions that star in Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline, back in Johannesburg with a new show that’s pure razzamatazz and sensory overload. By LESLEY STONES
Each act is performed to a background of power-packed music, pounding bass beats and fabulous, imaginative lighting. There’s a quick blast of O Fortuna and some mesmerising monastic chants, then even your seat is rumbling with the bass beat turned up to intensify the spectacle.
The circus is introduced by ringmaster and clown Salvador Salangsang, a lovely character who enjoys himself as much as we do. These breaks for tomfoolery between the high-adrenaline acts are great fun and a welcome change of pace, giving the audience time to mull over the feat they just saw before they’re hit with another burst of enthralling action.
The trio of trampoline artists is brilliant, shooting in and out of windows and climbing the walls on the façade of an apartment block. Juggler Ruslan Dmytruk is amazing, but the right music and the flamboyant man-in-a-mask costume elevate him to the status of an artist. One of the most popular acts was the ludicrous Rolla Bolla, where the svelte Kirill Rebkovets balances on a board wobbling on an ever-increasing number of hollow tubes stacked one on top of another. I loved hearing the collective gasps and squeals of the audience, interspersed with “oh my gods” and “no ways” as his rolling tower grew more precarious.
With the obligatory acrobats and strong men, several of the acts feel much the same as in Le Grand Cirque’s previous show. But that’s not a criticism at all. I’m thrilled by the glitz and glamour and the exhilarating insanity of it all. I loved seeing so many children in the audience too – it’s a great way of showing them that in human endeavour, there are no limits.
There’s a bizarre two-wheel contraption that rises dramatically with acrobats inside the spheres on either end. It’s a like a funfair ride on steroids, except there are no safety belts and the performers are walking around outside the circles as they revolve high above the stage. There are some slips and stumbles, which are probably choreographed into the act to remind us that this is actually dangerous.
The show ends with the ridiculously daft spectacle of three motorbikes weaving in and out of each other at 65km/h inside a metal ball, with engines roaring, music booming and spotlights flashing in a delicious sensory battering.
Perhaps circuses need to exist so people who are different from the rest of us have somewhere to ply their trade. Otherwise what would happen to those who can fold themselves into human pretzels or do a handstand on their partner’s head? They’d be unemployed, that’s what, and the world would be a poorer place because of it. DM
Le Grande Cirque Adrenaline runs at Joburg Theatre until 17 June.
Photos: Mariola Biela
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