Cirque du Spectacular
Cirque du Spectacular
You don’t go to a Cirque du Soleil show for the narrative. It's usually pretty flimsy, and Varekai’s is no exception: A young man falls from the sky into a forest at the top of a volcano, inhabited by fantastical, lizardlike creatures. He loses his sweeping white wings in the fall and is injured when he touches ground. If you’re thinking Icarus, you’re on the right track. By the end of the show, his pride has been tamed, and he’s found healing and love (with a svelte lady whose cane balancing act is pretty nifty).
“Varekai” in Romany means “wherever,” so he and we, the audience, could be, and are, nomads in an unspecified, but spectacularly designed and costumed anywhere. The design, as always is the case in a Cirque production, totally captures the imagination. But the circus acts, the real raison d’être for all this extravagance, are possibly even more jaw-dropping this time around. These are what we come back for, time and time again. Icarus performs an acrobatic ballet in hanging white fishnet. An adept baton twirler is coolness personified, even when he drops the baton. There are Georgian dancers and not one, but two Russian swings. (There’s a marked Eastern European feel to the proceedings, supported by the accompanying music and singing.) The clowns elicit laughs, many of them geared to the adults in the crowd (just a warning, if you’re taking the kids). A shout-out to Brooklyn and a crack about Williamsburg hipsters drew cheers. By far, the twin aerialists in black leather, hanging on by their fingertips and swooping though the air above our heads at a mile a minute were my favorites. This was the best use of Barclays Center’s vast space, and a brilliant reminder that Cirque du Soleil performs all its acts of derring-do without safety nets.
As a footnote, I’d just like to add that such muscular displays deserve a suitably muscular after-show meal. You’ll get the pun, if you read on. Bypassing Barclays Center’s endless menu of fast-food establishments, I returned to Manhattan and dined at Flex Mussels on my block. A heaping bowl of Thai mussels, with a beet salad to start, was a good way to end a better-than-good evening.
» Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., at Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, 800.745.3000, cirquedusoleil.com/varekai. The remaining performance schedule is July 31 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 2 at 4 & 7:30 p.m., Aug. 3 at 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.
» Flex Mussels, 154 W. 13th St., btw Sixth & Seventh aves., 212.229.0222, flexmussels.com