It’s dark. The music blares. Strobe lights flash. Bright pink, yellow and green bugs swarm the stage. “I feel like I'm 4 years old right now,” Josh whispered to me after the first minute. And so it begins, Cirque du Soleil presents OVO under The Big Top in The United Center parking lot. The Quebec-based circus troupe currently has twenty-two theme-based shows touring around the world. Premiering in 2009, OVO is the bug one! The neon-bright creepy crawlers perform stunts of inhuman wonder. It’s all the circus stuff from childhood but more fancy, colorful and insect-driven. Flying bugs dangle from the trapeze, silks and tightwire. The wingless critters juggle, contort and balance on one hand... upside down on someone else’s foot. Overhead and on-the-ground, OVO is a whimsical infestation.
READ ON OR LISTEN to Audio Podcast at ITUNES Chicago Theatre Reviews for Week of July 1st Narrated by Joshua Volkers
From the get go, I can’t get enough of the bugs! I want them to drop from the ceiling, scurry up the wall, and glide through the air. And OVO actualizes all my dreams in what could be deemed an exterminator’s worst nightmare. There are pests aplenty! Unlike in real life, these bugs are beautiful! My stunning favorite moment is a silk ribbon sequence. Suspended above ground, the performer morphs from cocoon to butterfly. It’s gorgeous! A couple of aerialists intertwine in a sexy bondage union. They effortlessly sail through the air with a pure carnal connection. It’s hot! With an egg being carried around, two bugs in courtship mode, and two blooming erotic plants, the show has a strong sensual vibe. Nothing that the kiddies would be scarred by but pollination is definitely in the air!
I go to the circus to be shocked by others’ near death experiences. Although OVO emphasizes floor work, there are thrilling moments of death denied. One bug walks, somersaults and splits on the tightwire. These are all eye-popping mesmerizers but then he rides a unicycle... pedaling with his hands... upside down... on the tightwire. My eyebrows literally disappeared into my hairline. The first act ends in a trapeze-fest. Already pretty high up, a bunch of bugs crawl on each other’s shoulders and dive off in pursuit of the swinging bar. WOW! It’s phenomenal! And although I love me some crazy stunt action, I am entertained by the floor work too. In what I’ll label ‘the kiwi dance,‘ the performers showcase powerful physicality and timing. On their back and using their feet, bugs play catch with each other. A bug kicks a bug to another bug. It’s an insect tossing switcharoo! In another grounded scene, I am transfixed by what I’ll call ‘the slinky dance.’ This creature expands and contracts by dropping an appendage. It’s horrifyingly entrancing! I loved it!
This show is as fascinating as bugs get! It captivates as a vibrant, magical spectacle. The only pesty problem for me was the ongoing love story between two bugs. Especially in the second act, the story is lengthy and the clown bug addition doesn’t help. Call me unromantic, but I don’t care if bugs mate. I’m more interested in the ones that are a centipede away from being splat or swat into oblivion. OVO does many amazing things but perhaps the biggest marvel is how it transforms adults into kids! This summer run away to the cirque and find your younger self!
A boy trapped in a man-sized body, Joshua Volkers describes it with ‘circus on steroids.’
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a thirty minute intermission
At The United Center, 1901 W. Madison
Written, directed and choreographed by Deborah Colker
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 4pm
Sundays at 1pm and 5pm
Thru August 21st