Dazzling, eye-popping, jaw-dropping and just plain fun is what describes Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam.” This worldwide traveling circus came to Hampton Roads at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center. The event showed for four days, usually with two show times. From a headless stranger with a blue bowler hat to balancing acts in free fall, there was something to be enjoyed by everyone.
The word “quidam” in French means a stranger or passerby, everyone and no one. The performance is dreamt up by a bored young girl, Zoé, who is ignored by her parents, and she unmistakably hears footsteps by a headless man with an umbrella. Once she takes his bowler hat she is possessed by the world of quidam. Cirque du Soleil is not any regular circus; there are no animals on skates, men on tight ropes or stilts and no acts involving a ring master. The acts are adopted from around the world which makes them unique and irreplaceable. The show feels more like a play than a circus with both a cast and acts divided into each scene. It is entirely nonverbal all their movements are in sync with whimsical music. This is why Cirque du Soleil is a big name in the world of contemporary circus.
The show begins with John, a part-time game show host and part-time substitute teacher. His job is to get the audience involved. With bizarre make up and diverting theatrics, he keeps the crowd amused, at all costs. As the story progresses, the more serious scenes involve more dangerous acts. The aerial contortion in silk act is one that displays the perplexity of balance on silk. A woman is suspended in the air only by two long portions of silk that is holding her up. She maneuvers the silk into numerous positions that allow her to intertwine, clasp and dislodge herself in mid-air temporarily, defying gravity. She performs this feat to melancholy music while captivating the audience into the serene atmosphere. One of the most compelling scenes of the show is the statue act. It contains two performers of immaculate flexibility and pure strength. Together, they balance and suspend off of each other through persistent concentration to achieve indescribable angles. These acts give the circus a more profound meaning by testing the true inner strength of the human body.
For the young at heart, there are a view acts that relate to a traditional feel of the circus. The scene that premieres the clown is one that displays this conventional act in a whole new light. This act is no common clown act with balloon animals and trick flowers; the scene involves a clown dressed in suit and hat and without make-up. For this act the backlights are brought up for the clown to get a better view of the audience. The act is entirely interactive with the spectators. He comes out with an old-fashioned movie camera and a slate used by onlookers he chooses from the crowd to act out his paramount movie. This scene is at a point in the play where the story leaves from a dramatic performance to provide the audience with a little comic relief. The diabolos scene takes yo-yoing to a whole different level. A diabolo or Chinese yo-yo is a child’s game that contains a spool and a string tied to two sticks. However, this common game is reengineered into an impressive skill. The scene involves a man with a string and a diabolo. He starts out displaying his talent with one yo-yo by tossing it in the air at unbelievable heights and having it land perfectly. As the act progresses he adds additional yo-yos, tossing and catching them, engrossing the audience with his rhythmic rendition of this classical game.
Another traditional act in any circus is juggling. The juggler uses red spheres, a bowler hat, umbrella and briefcase to display his talent. Normal jugglers tend to use the same objects; however, this juggler uses at least four spheres and an umbrella, all while balancing a sphere on his nose. These performances, though common for a circus, all add a touch of charisma that is unique to this contemporary circus.
Don’t underestimate this circus as a usual show. It uses traditional themes to entice you and a story line that will hypnotize you. With many unfathomable mid-air acts, it makes you question what your eyes are seeing. Cirque du Soleil’s “quidam” is an enchanting world where everyone’s imagination comes to life. Prepare to be in awe of this performance and stunned by the characters, acts and witty storytelling that will blow you away. Cirque du Soleil is no ordinary circus but a genre of its own.