Theatre Review: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ at Atlantic Station

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Photos by Jacob Nguyen

Cirque du Soleil is back in town, raising its familiar blue-striped grand chapiteau on the grounds of Atlantic Station for an extended run of its latest show, “Volta.” For those who’ve never been to a Cirque performance, it’s not your usual big top entertainment. Sure, there are acrobats, but there’s also a story being told with the high-flying setpieces and stirring musical soundtrack. This show also has some jaw-dropping BMX. Think of it as Cirque meets The X Games.

The loose narrative arc of “Volta” deals with a young man named Waz (Joey Arrigo) who competes in a talent show. He amazes the audience with his dance skills, but is later ridiculed when the host snatches off Waz’s hat and reveals a shocking thatch of feathery blue hair. Waz goes on a journey of memory and self-discovery looking for acceptance and to rekindle his childhood love of riding a bike.

It’s what happens along Waz’s adventure where the fun comes in. There’s a kinetic parkour sequence where acrobats leap from a building-like structure on to giant trampolines and bounce back to the roof or to perch on window ledges. You could hear gasps from the audience as the performers launched themselves from the trampoline and ran up the building’s walls.

Other notable setpieces include a high-energy performance by the male acrobats  summersaulting and leaping through rotating rings. Even they looked delighted with themselves when they successfully navigated the hoops and landed with cat-like agility to cheers from the audience.

A gorgeous young lady did the traditional “hair hang” twirling to the roof of the big top and swinging over the audience suspended only by her mane. Another couple navigated a spinning and collapsing ladder, scurrying up and down it like squirrels, and showing off their upper-body skills. Another diversion is Mr. Wow, a clownish mime who has two funny bits where he’s trying to clean his costume with uncooperative washing machines and another dealing with a bully on the beach.

When Waz finally reconnects with his past and learns to accept his uniqueness, the BMX riders take the stage for a stunning, heart-racing finale. The gravity-defying stunts seems to leave the riders suspended in mix-air before falling back to the ramps rotating on the stage.

All of this is set to a dramatic, cinematic score written by Anthony Gonzalez of French band M83, best know for their hit “Midnight City.” Hats off to Camilla Bäckman, who acts as one of the musical guides for the show and has Sarah Brightman-esque pipes and virtuoso  violin skills.

If you’re looking for a fun date-night activity or something to do with the entire family this holiday season, “Volta” is two hours of solid entertainment in the truest sense of the word. The show runs through Jan. 5, so there’s plenty of time to see it – maybe more than once.

For tickets and information, visit this link.

 

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