Review by Danny Gaisin
Canada is recognized internationally for inventing basketball; the ‘Canadarm’; snowmobiles; beating the U.S. In the War of 1812; and then punishing them further by exporting Shatner & Celine! We Canucks can also take pride in the World famous Cirque du Soleil – a worldwide phenomenon. Last night, a special media presentation of this iconic ensemble’s latest show highlighted something dear to us Leaf & Hab fans – ice & hockey, but with a plot & super effects.
Disclaimer: – like many of my press counterparts, an overabundance of visual events can jade one’s taste, and I admit to studiously avoiding figure skating competitions – live or on TV.
I also forego the calisthenics of the summer Olympics. But witnessing CRYSTAL was breathtaking enough to make an new convert of this scrivener.
There is a plot to the presentation. A young girl dreams of submersion in a frozen pond and thus enters a nether world…think Alice in Wonderland. She has a darker but mirroring alternative reflecting every maturing person’s self-doubts. The audience sees her at play; in school; starting work and observes her developing social interaction. All this portrayed on ice or trapeze flying overhead.
There are dance routines; acrobatics; a hockey game; music; comedy and intricate chorus numbers. The visual impact is continual and at times makes one wish for wider peripheral vision, especially vertically. I found myself emulating a viewer at a tennis match. The aforementioned trapeze work is also done with skates on. Hopefully there are a plethora of padded shoulders to support those sharp blades. The costumes are effective and add to the plot’s upshot. The skating is of competitive professional level albeit with ramps and hurdles worthy of a skateboard park.
To tell more of the story or describe the impact would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, this is a superlative effort and certainly something not to be missed. Considering that Hamilton is its inaugural staging, one hopes that it will be a sold-out show. And plan on staying the the end. . . the Busby Berkeley-ish finale will knock your CCM’s (skates) off. The show runs until Sunday afternoon at First Ontario Centre (aka Copps Colosseum) Suggestion; bring along a sweater, the ice makes the air chilly.