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Cirque du Soleil at Thompson Boling

If Cirque de Soleil's show "Varekai," wasn't as dumbfounding or hair-raising as Cirque's first show here, "Alegria," it was a memorably astonishing spectacle nonetheless.

It's a sort of fanciful sequel to the Icarus myth, lighter in tone than the previous two shows the globally famous Canadian company has presented at Thompson Boling Arena in recent years. There's a story, of sorts, something about a volcano and an enchanted forest. Look elsewhere for a synopsis. I can't supply one. It's as hard to describe as a dream.
Nearly half the show is comedy, mostly of the Euro-wacky vaudeville variety, and most of it will be more fun to watch if you have a five-year-old with you. It does include a couple of pretty clever skits, one in which a noir French lounge singer is obliged to chase his spotlight around the arena, another in which a clown finds a creative way to screw in another clown's cranial helmet bulb. Maybe you'd have to see that one. Most of the dialogue was in some obscure language or non-language (no, most of that's not French), but a misbegotten Dollywood joke on preview night elicited a big roomful of groans. I predict it will not survive this run.
The wildly colorful costumes are like nothing else in this particular time-space continuum. It's like Avatar, reimagined by Dr. Seuss, with some assistance from Mr. Timothy Leary. There's some Eastern European-style dancing, and singers with a live band, in costume and part of the whole fantastic scene. But the great thing about most Cirque shows is their freedom from cultural paradigms. What's that music? Rock? Jazz? Classical? Folk? Not exactly. In fact, not very close to any of those. It's just music for this show.
But you go for the acrobatics and the juggling, if those words are adequate to describe crazy new twists on those concepts that you've never seen before. Ever see a guy juggling multiple ping-pong balls high above his head using only his mouth? Or juggling multiple hats diagonally, like Frisbees? Or doing vaulting-horse style gymnastics on a pair of crutches? Neither have I. There was a balancing contortionist, and some incredibly graceful aerial dance on widely swinging cables, and finally a thing involving three acrobats and a long bar that I can't even describe.
I don't know what's more unbelievable, the fact that human beings can do the things they do, or that other human beings found a reason to believe that human beings could do these things. After a while, I' m afraid, you just stop believing they're human beings.

 It's here through this weekend.

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