Cirque brings the weird, and then some


A few stray observations about Ovo, the latest Cirque du Soleil piece now playing under the "Grand Chapiteau" (basically, a big, high-tech circus tent) at the Mall of America.

This says more about me than anything else, but my first thought when the characters began to assemble onstage -- especially lead clown Filpo -- was the Sid and Marty Krofft early '70s hallucination The Bugaloos. Later on, as the insect creatures twisted, jumped and flew overhead, I was reminded of the ancient William Hartnell Doctor Who serial, The Web Planet. Perhaps I need to get out more.

Cirque music comes from a world all its own, or perhaps from a deep, previously unheard pit of Hell. Loud and aimless, it is mainly there to provide a backdrop for all of the action onstage, but the anonymous New-Age-like sounds really grate on the soul after a while. The volume doesn't help. I'm a 30-year veteran of rock, metal, and punk concerts, and my ears were starting to hurt by the end of the show. Of course, it did help to drown out the noise of the flights arriving and taking off from the nearby airport.

[jump] I don't want to harp on the music, but of all the Cirque shows I've sat through over the years, the only one that made any kind of aural impression was Love, which had the advantage of using the catalog of one of the great rock and pop acts of the 20th century. I'm not asking for music of the Beatles' level, but at least some tune I could take home with me, beyond aimless singing and pounding drums? Please?

Still, once you get beyond the surface weirdness, there is the heart and soul of the company. These are definitely world class acrobats, contortionists, clowns, and performers, and the set pieces scattered through the show are real spectaculars. Personal favorites include the act one ending flying act (performed by strong and burly scarabs) and trampoline-aided performers leaping like crickets (befitting their costumes, of course).

So, yes, Ovo is strange, and startling and remarkable and kind of beautiful all at the same time. It's what audiences have come to expect from Cirque, and again the company meets all of those expectations -- both the bits that may be negative and the overwhelming ones that are positive.


8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays; 1 & 5 p.m. Sundays


Through June 12

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