CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: LUZIA | London, Royal Albert Hall

Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia spent two years on hiatus, but it has burst back into the hopefully-almost-post-Covid landscape with all the frenetic joy and vibrancy of a butterfly from the cocoon.

The theme of the piece, “A Waking Dream of Mexico”, is evoked through hallucinatory costumes and a feverish use of colour.  Lizards pole-dance, hummingbirds leap through hoops, and cacti, bizarrely, don goggles to clown on the seabed. Trails of ants on yolk-yellow sundresses evoke Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and a musician wears his crocodile head backwards to accommodate a tuba. This is a production so assured of its own talent, that it can afford to veer into the ridiculous.

The staging is gorgeous, particularly in its use of water. A Tarzan-like aerialist swings and whirls above an oasis, his long hair flinging water in a mesmerising spirograph of patterns. An artificial waterfall – a thunderous sheet falling from the heights of the Albert Hall – is practically an act in itself. Luzia makes the humidity and lushness of Mexico palpable, even on a frosty London night.

There are moments when the production summons that glorious, Cirque-du-Soleil sense of too-muchness, the perfectly choreographed overwhelm of acrobats wheeling in a thousand directions at once, almost untrackable by the naked eye. Then – as is also Cirque du Soleil tradition – there will be a breather for some desultory clowning, the circus equivalent of ‘eat your vegetables before you have any more pudding’. But the production shines most when its attention is most focused, and the pretense of narrative is stripped away. Beautiful, almost meditative pieces featuring a single, breathtakingly talented performer – these are what follow the audience back out into the cold, January evening. A dream of Mexico, half-remembered.

Evie Prichard

Playing 12 January – 27 February 2022 at the Royal Albert Hall.

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