CDS German Wheel photo by Al SeibOne of Cirque du Soleil’s earliest shows, Quidam premiered in Quebec in April 1996. After nearly 20 years touring the world, it commenced its final Australian tour in the AIS stadium in Canberra on 10 December 2015. Following seasons in Wollongong, Hobart and Newcastle, it will move to New Zealand where it will have its final performance in Christchurch on 26 February 2016.

One would think that after almost 20 years touring, it would be a bit frayed around the edges. However, it is as shiny as a new pin, and even in arena format, Quidam remains an astonishing spectacle.

Written and directed by Franco Dragone, Quidam contains all the hallmarks of the ground-breaking Cirque du Soleil style which, with its merging of theatre with circus performance, changed modern circus forever.

A huge cast, stunning acrobatics, brilliant costumes, superb lighting, breath-taking staging and meticulous presentation are all on display as the show follows the adventures of Zoe, a little girl who, ignored by her parents, dreams up a whimsical world peopled by surreal characters including a headless man who carries an umbrella, a strange ringmaster called John, a graceful sprite called Target, and a mysterious Frankenstein-like creature called Boum-Boum.

In this world urchin-like characters continually appear and disappear, while highly skilled acrobats perform astonishing feats either on the huge revolving stage, or high above the heads of the audience, to a thrilling score performed by a superb live band and singers.

Among the brilliantly performed specialty acts, the incredible strength of the statues, Natalia Pestova and Alexander Pestov, the grace and flexibility of Julie Cameron performing high above the stage on silks, the panache of Wei Liang Lin with his diabolos, and the breathtaking stunts of Cory Sylvester and his German Wheel stay etched in the mind.

Personal favourites include the amazing ensemble skipping-rope routine, and the extraordinary Banquine finale in which fifteen extraordinary acrobats flipped, tumbled and tossed each other every which way.

Some might miss the Grand Chapiteau experience, but Quidam works remarkably successfully in stadium mode. It’s worth travelling to see this show. You’ll kick yourself if you miss this final opportunity to experience this Cirque Du Soleil classic.

AIS Arena, Leverrier Street, Bruce (ACT)
Performance: Friday 11 December 2015
Season continues to 20 December 2015
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au

Also playing WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong (23 December 2015 – 2 January 2016), Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart (6 – 10 January 2016), and Newcastle Entertainment Centre (15 – 24 January 2016). For more information, visit: www.cirquedusoleil.com/quidam for details.

Image: German Wheel – photo by Al Seib / Costume: Dominique Lemieux © Cirque du Soleil

Review: Bill Stephens