The pedigree of the performers looked so impressive, the show full of promise on paper, but the opening number was utterly grating, setting a low tone that pervaded for much of Le Aerial, as it proved to be a slow roll to tedium.
The performers’ resumes speak for themselves, with a Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity history, and opera singer Mark Oates as accompaniment. It boded well for some highbrow entertainment with an element of danger. Aerial and opera? Delightful! Sadly, this was not the case.
Opening with a repetitive song whereby the only discernible lyrics are “aerial” on repeat was irritating. The decisively not aerial dancing led to an overwhelming feeling of naff, to say the least. It is utterly underwhelming at the outset. Opening with a tale of an angel losing her wings sounds like a brilliant opportunity for narrative in an aerial based show, and yet the story ends once a bellhop’s cart is lowered in the next act. Le Aerial is inconsistent and incoherent. The use of a storyline would pay dividends.
Oates is distracting at best. While equipped with a delightful voice, the singer’s presence is misplaced, his interactions with the audience bordering on creepy. Utilising him as the villain against angels could have been so much more powerful. There was a definite sense of relief when he is disposed from the stage and the performers left to their devices. There might be the few who enjoy opera, who are appreciative of such a performance, but it added nothing to this reviewer’s experience.
Act after act is trotted out with the promising wonder of new apparatus rarely seen before in aerial performance, drawing excited breaths from the audience, but with few new tricks to really wow. The performers themselves are wonders of strength, grace and beauty but are ultimately let down by the production overall. There is so much promise yet to be realised here.
Le Aerial is a testament to ingenuity with apparatus construction and the performers’ ability to utilise them, but ultimately falls from the lofty heights it aspires to and is a tale of missed opportunities. A fine example of this was witnessed in the duo silks act, whereby the two women could easily have played at competing with one another within a story as they performed on the apparatus one after the other. A lot of reworking and rewriting from the producers could bring forth the potential within for an incredible show that has such phenomenal talent at hand.
Photos by Jason Matz