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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Cirque Du Soleil: Corteo Review | AO Arena

Cirque du Soleil has brought its procession of performers with a slew of talents to Manchester, and they are dedicated to constructing a slice of heaven on earth.

We follow Mauro the clown as the AO Arena audience gather around his deathbed to look back at his life, experiences and friendships. With a fairy tale feel and childlike Peter Pan wonder, Mauro is ascended on by angels who highlight the magical gift of a life well lived.

Offering a balancing act of masterful flying manoeuvres and passionate performances, the world of Corteo remains light enough for all the family to enjoy, as it preserves the energy of a Cirque du Soleil show and the enthusiasm of its sizable ensemble to ensure audiences come back for more. Corteo’s writer/director, Daniele Finzi Pasca allows all the people who knew Mauro to perform around (and on) his death bed as they offer him a light and whimsical send-off that celebrates his life.

From the vantage point of the audience, the show spotlights a fulfilling life, which is comforted by Mauro’s incredible array of circus troupe friends. Bringing death-defying stunts and aerial acrobatics surrounded by a dark abyss, the intimate atmosphere within the vast arena, pulls focus by beautifully spotlighting and singling out each performer from the entourage. Under Pasca’s direction, Cirque du Soleil continue to set a high bar from the start, bringing in a floating cyclist and angels poised above the audience that help place you into Mauro’s fantasy. A spinning chandelier sequence offers a dazzling spectacle which sees its acrobatic aerialists performing above the AO crowd in silk nighties that recognise the circus family and tradition within the wistful setting. With Pasca’s enchanting 1890s production, the lavish costumes and glorious set, transform the space with the use of intricate and timeless uniforms. The cast of characters also bring a camaraderie, a sense of community and a competitive spirit to the production as the swinging gymnast display their agility and strength by besting each other on the bars.

Corteo is one of Cirque du Soleil’s eeriest storylines, with its darker tone and pitch-black surroundings setting the audience up for a surprisingly elegant, pyjama-clad evening of glitz and glamour. There are plenty of visual gags to appreciate and the production's live backing music, provided by a collection of clowns, sits off stage, timing themselves perfectly to the choreographed performances. The gorgeous staging, which smartly splits itself in half, ensures that there is action taking place from all angles of the circular arena. Nevertheless, this production continues to keep clowning at its core, as a flying Cirque member heads out into the crowd to pull audiences into the act.

Reflecting less on the macabre and more on merriment, the two-hour show allows Mauro to take stock of his life and reassuringly reminds audiences to cultivate the life they enjoy. Corteo is a restrained production, presenting a vast array of acrobatic treats inspired by a rediscovery for the richness of life and an appreciation for the adventures we have along the way.

Tickets are available via Ticketmaster link


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