By Nick LeMay; photo by Ninh T. Chau
At an invitation only event, Cirque du Soleil previewed their insect-themed production dubbed OVO last Wednesday, November 3rd. The performance was held under The Grand Chapiteau, a series of elaborate tents near Atlantic Station where these artistic gymnasts would cultivate a level of discipline over the body in the most impressive and creative way I could have imagined.
An odd mix of suits, flannel-donning southern boys and cocktail dresses mingled in the concession area sipping a modest choice of wine with a fat price tag. The only way to get loose at this event would have to involve a flask, a trip to the liquor store and a dark place to hide the whole operation. Of course, I emptied my wallet like the rest of the crowd and hoped for the best.
It turns out, stepping into the stage area and fumbling like a blind person to find a seat was a trip in itself. There were speakers in places I didn’t think speakers could go. Wind and insect calls encircled the stage. People dressed in some other-wordly form of a beekeeper outfit inspected the crowd. The initial rise of action started the minute you entered and enveloped almost all of your senses.
The performers came on stage slowly, introducing themselves as a unique species of insect. I was sure then that we had willingly crossed a barrier into a dimension of insane insect people and I wasn’t sure if this is where I should be.
After all of that, the lights shut off and the show began.
The performances were all very original gymnastic feats that ranged from body balancing and trapeze to an incredibly intricate display of wall climbing below a floor covered in trampolines. For every glorious feat seen in the show, there was something slightly more amazing displayed. These artists had harnessed a level of energy so intense that it stole from my ability to applaud. I could only sit, scribble my pen and wait for them to slip up. They never missed a cue or made a slight indication that a mistake was going to be made.
The “clowns” acted out a couple of different comedic sequences that can only be described as legitimately funny and helplessly cute.
I had seen the Allegria production a few years back and OVO is decidedly better in every way. The theme itself is profoundly relatable and immediately obvious, while still being vague enough to be open for individual interpretation. The woman scanning my ticket was right; as opposed to other Cirque Du Soleil shows, people just seem to “get” OVO.
All said and done, the show was roughly three hours long with a short intermission, during which I spoke with a Sysco broker named Jim Hayes. “They ordered about $24,000 dollars worth of food, just for today … they insist on having local, organic produce,” Hayes couldn’t hold back the information from such a ridiculously grandiose operation. “This place is completely self sufficient with a kitchen and dormitories and everything … it’s just amazing how they’ll go through all of this to keep their bodies pure.”
The show ended with a short dance sequence followed by a polite bow or weird insect growl from each performer. Afterwards, a roar of awe-inspired conversation filled the room and it was time to go.
I found myself completely enamored with the artistic display and would even concede that viewing a Cirque Du Soleil performance makes the things to do before you die list. The ticket price definitely seems negligible after experiencing the truly graceful limits of the human body in an immersive, unique setting.