Feb 20. Darkness falls over the audience of the opening night of the Fukuoka leg of Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo Tour. All eyes face the one illuminated object in the room, the giant egg from which the performance gets its Portugese name. Before it, a cricket is perched on the stem of a dandelion, silhouetted so completely that egg becomes moon, with night stretching to each corner of the tent. Strobes flash to the crescendoing string motif of Beethoven’s 5th and in a flash of darkness and silence the egg is gone.
The rising stage lights reveal an early dawn, and we are introduced to the community of insects about which the show’s fifteen acts are based as well as the enigmatic and sexually charged ‘Foreigner’, played by Hironi Taniguchi, the first Japanese to land the role of principal clown in Cirque Du Soleil’s thirty year history. His introduction comes in the form a long and drawn out “Ko-Ni-Chi-Wa”, bringing out a wave of laughter from his home audience.
From here, the show moves into its acts, which combine many of the traditional feats of the circus with a stunning level of artistry to create the hybrid of performance art and circus that has made Cirque Du Soleil so successful. The aerial silk act, for example, in which a performer performs on hanging lengths of silk, becomes a chrysalis from which a butterfly emerges, the silk drapes transforming into extended wings, an act of extraordinary talent and beauty.
Yet for its focus on its concept, the show loses none of the displays of awesome physicality and acrobatics. The first half climaxes with its ‘Flying Act’ (an apt name), in which 12 acrobats perform one of the most impressive feats of trapeze to grace the circus, landing triple backloops – not on their feet but their hands – before being launched into yet more somersaults. The second half’s ‘Trampo-Wall’ exhibits the crickets, leaping between floor and a five metre climbing wall with the aid of trampolines. Individual and group talent abounds, the tumble track providing a solo stage for performers to let loose in-between perfectly choreographed group demonstrations on the wall behind.
The scenes are interrupted by clowning from the ringmaster ‘Flipo’, Hironi Taniguchi’s ‘Foreigner’ and love interest ‘Ladybug’. While their performance is mainly a combination of slapstick and pan-lingual gibberish, laughter rang through the tent at their infrequent but well-timed use of Japanese. The second half meanwhile brought to the fore the house band, who underscore the show with a soundtrack influenced by Brazilian samba. The show’s soundscape extends further, however, with a well produced ambient soundtrack of insects tying the show to its theme throughout.
Cirque Du Soleil’s Ovo is a magnificent show, from its level of skill – a lifetime of summers in France practicing trapeze, juggling and tightrope walking wouldn’t get you close – to its artistry, its beautiful choreography, intricately detailed costumes and impressive set design. It will remain in Fukuoka until Apr. 5 when it will move to Sendai to complete its Japanese tour.
Fukuoka Now offers its reader a special chance to get tickets to the amazing Cirque Du Soleil production of Ovo. Save ¥1,500 off each ticket for the three shows listed: Feb. 25 (Wed.) 16:00, Feb. 28 (Sat.) 15:00, and Mar. 8 (Sun.) 11:00. For full details and to reserve access: http://bit.ly/ovo-discount
Feb. 20 (Fri.) ~ Apr. 5 (Sun.), 11:00~, 12:00~, 15:00~, 16:00~, 18:30~
• Fukuoka Big Top (Hakozakigu Gaien)
• 4-10 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka
• Weekdays, Adults: SS seat: ¥12,500, S seat: ¥10,000, A seat/wheelchair seat: ¥6,500
Children：SS seat: ¥8,500, S seat: ¥6,500, A seat/wheelchair seat: ¥4,500
Weekends & Holidays, Adults: SS seat: ¥13,500, S seat: ¥11,000, A seat/wheelchair seat: ¥7,500
Children: SS seat: ¥9,500, S seat: ¥7,500, A seat/wheelchair seat: ¥5,500
Seating map: http://www.fujitv.co.jp/events/ovo/files/pdf/sheet_fukuoka.pdf
Tickets can be purchased via various services including Lawson Ticket (L Code: 87000) and Ticket Pia (P Code: 627-030).
Report by Oscar Boyd
Oscar is a student from London, UK. He is a keen hiker and aims to summit every mountain in Fukuoka visible from his bedroom window. If you have any suggestions contact him on Twitter @omhboyd