Cirque du Soleil's, Amaluna set in the Grand Chapiteau sends out mixed messages. It’s performance troupe and Big Top surroundings dazzles and lures its audience who expect an extravagant island ruled by acrobatic women. Before the main performance begins, Cali (a lizard man) impresses the audience by mingling, swishing his oversized tale, juggling and climbing the tent. A massive water glass sits centre stage enticing you with its possibilities for Soleil’s impossible stunts. Rock music blares from the all-female guitar band, staking claim at the back of the island of Amaluna and the first group on stage start by flipping every which way.
Unfortunately, with so many elements and gifted solo performances that carry the show, the story itself feels tacked on. Ultimately, it doesn’t flow and when watching Amaluna I felt as if I were witnessing a collection of deleted scenes rather than Cirque de Soleil’s best bits.
During the intermission, an usher explained that what little plot there was, loosely linked to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. The men had washed up on the women’s island after a shipwreck allowing a romance between Romeo and Miranda to begin. What scenes there were between Romeo and Miranda were few and brief but the solo performances were impressive. Miranda emerges from the giant water glass, arranging herself in a range of acrobatic poses while Romeo watches her.
Visually interesting and beautifully performed, the mostly female kingdom fails for its lack of real storytelling, butt punishing seats and overpriced tickets. Cirque du Soleil are known for being a dramatic and gripping group but Amaluna relies heavily on cliched circus techniques that lower the tone of the show. When two over-the-top circus clowns appear in the audience speaking unintelligible clown language, serving as cover for costume changes, no one in the audience looked impressed.
The ending was also extremely abrupt, going from high flipping acrobatic men to a wedding scene with no final performance from our Romeo and Miranda is purely poor directing. Despite the talented cast and the lavish set design, Amaluna is a slapdash display of performances, unworthy of its high-flying price.