Review: Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘Crystal’ at RAC Arena

Cirque Du Soleil: Crystal at RAC Arena
Friday, September 15, 2023


Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal is a unique fusion of two artistic disciplines – the breathtaking acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil and the grace and skill of ice skating. While the concept is innovative and promising, the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

First and foremost, the talent on display is unquestionably impressive. The ice skaters exhibit remarkable athleticism and precision – in solo routines, in traditional figure skates pair dances, in a trick and jump skate team, and in large ensemble skate-dance routines. The impressive skate segments alternate with the traditional Cirque du Soleil performers, bringing their trademark trapeze swings, chair balancing, juggling, aerial silks, clowning and daring stunts. 

Each talent is showcased in its own segment, each tangibly linked by the storyline of Crystal, a misfit girl on a journey of self acceptance. As Crystal falls through the ice, she has a ‘Alice through the looking glass’ sequence of interactions with the other performers. These mini scenes are sometimes dreamlike and ethereal, while others are dark and jarring – parents should note it may be frightening for under 10s.

However, the narrative and pacing of the show could be improved. At times, it feels like the transitions between the various acts and segments are a bit disjointed, which can disrupt the overall flow of the performance. In past Cirque Du Soleil productions the clowns are better used to transition the audience. A more cohesive storyline connecting the different elements would enhance the experience. The music, though fitting for the most part, feels like an afterthought. A more integrated and memorable soundtrack could elevate the emotional impact of the performance.

Additionally, while the ice adds a unique dimension to the show, it can also limit the mobility and scope of the performers. Some of the more intricate Cirque du Soleil acts that rely on aerial acrobatics and complex apparatuses in the big top lose a bit of their grandeur when performed on a single rigging. However the lighting design creates a visually stunning backdrop for the performers, particularly the projections onto the ice, so that the skater leaves a ‘trail’ behind her, or the ice ‘cracks’.

Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal is a commendable experiment that showcases incredible talent. However, it falls just short of achieving the seamless fusion they were reaching for. While it may not be perfect it still offers a captivating and entertaining experience that is worth seeing for fans of either Cirque du Soleil or ice skating.