April 9th, 2012 | Penelope Bass Arts & Books | Posted In: Theater

Live Review: Cirque du Soleil’s OVO

The theatrical circus returns with its genetically engineered super-humans.

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In case you missed the newspaper ads, radio and TV spots, Internet flash ads, billboards and plastered buses and Max trains, Cirque du Soleil is back in town. This time around the French-Canadian circus is exploring the secret life of insects in a new show, dubbed OVO

Not for those with entomophobia, the show begins in a warm and humid tent with the sounds of buzzing, clicking and whirring all around. The cast of performers embodies the insects themselves, dressed in artistically interpreted costumes of ants, crickets, fleas, butterflies, beetles and spiders. There is no real plot beyond a love story between a sassy ladybug and a spiky fly played to comic—if tedious—effect. The point is the superhuman acrobatic capabilities of the international cast, which, despite all cynicism, are pretty fucking amazing. Small Chinese women dressed as ants juggle oversized pieces of fruit with their feet and then proceed to juggle one another while juggling the fruit. Spiders bend backward into shapes that should be physically impossible, butterflies swing from ropes by their feet and crickets do a routine on trampolines and a 25-foot climbing wall that is worth the price of admission (which, given the price of admission, is really saying something). 

By the time a slight but muscular man dressed as a spider does a handstand on a unicycle and rides it across a slack line 20 feet in the air, you might suspect these people have been genetically engineered by the government. When the acrobatic scarabs scuttle up rope ladders and begin tossing each other through the air, it becomes clear that if anyone could pull off a heist or assassination it would be these guys. PENELOPE BASS. 

Portland Expo Center, 2060 N Marine Dr., 736-5200, expocenter.org. 4-8 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, 1 and 5 pm Sundays through May 20. $43.50-$143.50.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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