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Theatre review: Cirque Du Soleil's Varekai/The Trafford Centre

We send Mitch Poole off to join the circus and he is well impressed

Published on March 2nd 2010.


Theatre review: Cirque Du Soleil's Varekai/The Trafford Centre

The last time I went to the circus I was seven - a full 40 years ago. I went with my granddad to Garston Rec. We left early because I was spooked by the clowns, too cold and it was all a bit rubbish. I can still remember bits of the experience; laddered tights, tatty costumes, mangy animals and scary, overly-made-up faces – and that was before I’d left my Gran’s.

Varekai provides almost three hours of engaging, escapist and spectacular entertainment with acrobatic displays that left my palms sweaty. Such was the level of tension that I was forced to have to part with a fiver for a pint in the interval to calm my nerves

Being the cynic that I am, I’m hard to impress and have a low attention span. So would I stay the distance witnessing ‘Varekai’ by Cirque Du Soleil? Circus in 2010, and as a grown-up.

The Grande Chapiteau (Big Top to me and thee) is based at the Trafford Centre (at the John Lewis end) from for the next three weeks. It's a comfortable arena with good visibility all around, an excellent sound system and friendly, efficient stewarding.

For those wondering, Varekai means ‘wherever’ in the Romany language. The theme of the show is that of colourful fantasy, a world full of mysterious creatures with a loose story to hold it all together. The story itself is irrelevant but it provides is a theme to link spectacular performance, acrobatic and gymnastic brilliance and contemporary, funny-not-scary clowns.

Apart from that nasty smell that circuses used to have - and of course no knackered animals these days - all of the “traditional” elements are still present; jugglers, high wire acts, contortionists, acrobats, stiltwalkers and clowns. But this is a feature-length performance, rather than merely a series of acts, and the links are seamless. The other huge difference is that the costumes are brilliant and the performers, without exception, are amazing.

The cynic in me was left behind parked in the car from the moment it started. Not once did I look at my watch and think ‘I’m missing The Bill for this I hope I’ve set the record button’.

Varekai provides almost three hours of engaging, escapist and spectacular entertainment with acrobatic displays that left my palms sweaty. Such was the level of tension that I was forced to have to part with a fiver for a pint in the interval to calm my nerves.

Produced by the unlikely sounding Dominic Champagne, who was responsible for the production of the Beatles Love in Las Vegas, tickets aren’t cheap, ranging from £29.50 to £65, but represent good value for the entertainment on offer. I cannot remember the last time that I got up off my backside for a standing ovation but last night I was one of an audience who at the finale rose as one.

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DescartesApril 6th 2010.

I really enjoyed this show, well worth the £50 notes I dropped on the tickets. £3.50 for a tiny packet of pringlers however, and £5 for what amounted to a triple short of red wine - was extortion.<br><br>There's another show in June I think, I'd say go and see it, but take your own snacks.

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