I went into the arena knowing nothing about Saltimbanco. It was only from the souvenir program that I realized it's one of Cirque's longest-running shows, first exhibited in 1992. From what I've gathered, the show was later reinvented to play in large arenas.
The stage was a colorful and flexible creation, allowing for Chinese poles to be mounted and dismounted, for trapezes to be set up, for set pieces to be rolled on and off, and more.
My main frustration with the show was that it was in French, although one cast member made introductions in an impressive not-so-heavily-accented Filipino. Yes, the visuals were the whole point of the show more than anything else but I was often left wondering what the story was.
According to its website, Saltimbanco "explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city."
The nearly two-hour-and-a-half spectacle, with a short break in between, was a showcase of colorful chaos, weird costumes, comedic performances, and impressive stunts. Admittedly, though, I was a bit antsy and bored during the first act. I don't know if it was the act itself that felt repetitive after a while or the uncomfortable seats of the MOA Arena (really tight, paper-thin cushioning, barely-there armrests) but thankfully I found myself more appreciative of the show after the break.
Cirque proved not to be infallible, however. Twice during the Russian Swing act they made mistakes, and the juggler, despite his impressive prowess at handling multiple -- and I mean multiple -- balls, also missed. But the audience was quick to forgive. I mean, common, what they're doing is no mean feat for crying out loud.
The Chinese poles act: colorful and one of the highlights of the show's first half. [Source]
The Hand to Hand act (performing on ANC). This was a display of immense strength, balance and flexibility; a tad too gay at times, though. [Source]
This act I didn't see. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there. [Source]
Overall it was a great experience for us watching Saltimbanco, especially since we've missed Cirque's Varekai last year. I was just slightly worried that the venue wasn't filled to capacity because it may jeopardize any chances of bringing more of Cirque's shows to the Philippines. I hope not because we would be missing out on a lot.
Me and My Bibe making do with a camera phone.
Saltimbanco is playing next in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan on August 29.