CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Film Review: ‘Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away’ is Visually Arresting Infomercial
CHICAGO – Cirque du Soleil, which began with two street performers in Quebec in 1984, has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise with shows on every continent and seven simultaneous extravaganzas in Las Vegas. The Vegas shows make up the storyline for “Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away.”
The style of Cirque – that of an evolution in artsy, acrobatic big top performance – is an acquired taste, and fans of the concept will probably love the 3D film maneuverings of the various Las Vegas shows. But there is also a redundancy in that style, and because the narrative is spare, it does tend to feel like a circus parade infomercial of “visit exciting Las Vegas, and see these shows live!” It’s best to go in with an open mind and heart towards the Cirque zeitgeist, otherwise the piece just blends together, distinctively visual but a bit empty in the creative variation department. It’s almost silly to critically disrespect the Cirque impression, because of it’s athletic tribute to the luxury of what a human body can do, but the sameness is apparent and that can be a turnoff.
As indicated above, there is not much of a narrative. An outsider waif named Mia (Erica Linz) happens upon a glitzy circus in the middle of a nowheresville. She is entranced under the big top by The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov). In the midst of one of his difficult high wire moves, the performer falls to the earth, horrifying Mia and the crowd. But instead of landing hard on terra firma, The Aerialist falls inside a quicksand-like earth. Mia also seems to be falling for him, because she follows him into the soft pit.
She ends up in a etherial plane below, with circus tents among a cloud-like atmosphere. Within each of the tents is a Cirque du Soleil show, including all seven of the Vegas acts – “O,” “Mystére,” “Ka,” “Zumanity,” “Viva Elvis,” “Criss Angel Believe” and “The Beatles Love.” Mia disappears and reappears throughout the acts, still searching for the elusive Aerialist.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures