Athleticism, incredible balletic skill, showmanship and astonishing levels of skill and fearlessness combined seemlessly as the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil rolled into Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.
The global phenomenon is no stranger to the city, having performed Alegria back in 2013.
But the current show is part of Cirque’s first-ever arena tour of Varekai, Tales of the Forest — and it left me open-mouthed, if at times a little bamboozled.
The show has its basis in the Greek myth of Icarus, picking up where the story leaves off and reimagining what happened to Icarus after he flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky.
In Varekai, rather than drowning in the sea below him, Icarus lands in a lush forest full of exotic creatures.
And it is this premise which gives rise to the acrobatic opener as Icarus performs astounding feats using a net and incredible strength in a display that oozes beauty and perfection.
The aforementioned creatures are the main protagonists of a show that takes the traditions of circus, such as trapeze, baton twirling and acrobatics, to a new and almost poetic level — with a strong dash of humour.
And what’s more, the jaw-dropping circus skills are all performed without a safety net!
A cast of 40 — including wonderfully talented singers — bring the extravaganza to life in a colourful assault on the senses.
On opening night, the crowd had already been warmed up by a duo of clowns who made the most of their crowd interaction and at one stage left a couple, who had only been searching for their seats, stranded in the centre of the stage.
Then Icarus arrived and what followed was a rollercoaster of a show with action in all corners that was an assault on the senses.
The pace of the show was fabulous with tumbling acrobats somersaulting into view from a forest in the background as other performers climbed a seemingly precarious structure that jutted out into the arena.
There is synchronised tumbling as acrobats, untroubled by their extravagant costumes, flipped and twisted through the air with the help of an inflatable mat.
There is a breathtaking female solo trapeze, incredible, fast-paced baton twirling, Georgian dance as the performers seem to defy gravity and a section called ‘Slippery Surface’ with the artists throwing each other through the air.
One of my favourite segments involved one of the performers manipulating his body and displaying unbelievable strength whilst balancing on a pair of crutches.
Performers also fly through the air in a duet using straps and the finale involves two giant swings, glorified bed-sheets and astonishing hang time which drew rapturous applause from the audience.
And who can forget the little segway performance of ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ (Don’t Leave Me), involving a darting spotlight, that is unforgettable.
A terrific evening of entertainment which is unmissable if you have the chance to catch this wonderful show.
Varekai continues its run at the Motorpoint Arena until Sunday, March 12. Tickets cost £50.40 and £61.60 (includes administration fee).
If you cannot see it at Nottingham find out more by visiting www.cirquedusoleil.com