CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – TORUK gets 4.5/10 Not ready to rock

Toruk – The First Flight @ The Perth Arena
Presented by Cirque Du Soleil

4.5/10

Ever had your heart shattered by a piece of theatre? Cirque Du Soleil broke up with Perth audiences in their run of TORUK, and they did it brutally, probably by text message in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, this is a case of “it’s not us, it’s you.” Hopefully this is merely a minor blip in an otherwise loving relationship.

When one of the most beloved circus companies on the globe ventures into a hybrid of theatre and cinema, it was always a creative risk taking venture, and unfortunately the results are nothing short of disappointing. There is not much room left for soul to shine through with the promise of their renowned physical feats. If you enter the world of TORUK expecting typically majestic Cirque Du Soleil physically breathtaking fare, you’ll be disappointed. Conversely, if you’re hoping for a reprisal of Avatar, prepare yourself for some pretty sub par reimagining of Pandora’s wonder.

The choice of Avatar as source material for a Cirque crossover seems like an obvious option at first glance due to the visual spectacle that is the world of Pandora, but even the biggest fan will admit that the original was pretty thin in terms of plot. Foreign land invaded by another race and raped for its bounty, humans find a way to befriend for their benefit. See also: any variety of Dances With Wolves, Fern Gully and the ilk. Cultural appropriation abounds, etc. and so forth. This is also ever present in TORUK.

When the lighting is the star of a show, and the only aspect of note mentioned afterwards, you know you’re in trouble. When lovers of circus and the arts are leaving an expensive show at intermission to avoid the inevitable boredom coming in the second half, it’s a flashing red light. When audience members are utilising the opportunity at interactive media on their phones to text throughout the show in lieu of watching, it’s time to rethink your tour. And when your audience are paying up to $200 for a ticket to a what is nothing short of a slow burning, but prettily wrapped garbage fire, it’s downright unforgivable.

Perhaps the cavernous space of Perth Arena leads to a loss of atmosphere and intimacy, perhaps it’s just that the show itself is lacking any kind of soul or love. TORUK is completely devoid of the usual sense of family, community and joy usually palpably present in Cirque Du Soleil shows. It is a labour to view for the audience, and appears utterly loveless for the performers.

One of the multiple issues lies in the lack of feature performances to distract the audience from what is otherwise a downright yawn worthy show. Noteworthy moments do, however, include a number of acrobats balancing on a see sawing skeleton in an impressive display of balance and physics, some glorious puppetry with beautiful kites, and the climactic entrance of the eponymous Toruk, in all its magnificence. Still, not enough to salvage the boredom.

The difference between polite, obliged clapping and rapturous applause – such as that which greeted KOOZA earlier this year – must be obvious to the company. Surely they are aware of the massive disappointment they are leading. And surely, Perth deserves more than this delivery of theatrical narcolepsy.

NAT GILES

Photos by Thierry Ballangé

 

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