It is a journey through evolution. A spectacular story revolving around water, whether it is rippling through a brook, crashing on a beach, or meandering inside a marsh. Oh, and there are some pretty insane acrobatic feats that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Cirque du Soleil's Totem has come to Irvine at the Orange County Great Park, thrilling attendees with the unique brand of artistry, acrobatics, and humor that the French Canadian troop is famous for the world over.
Totem, written and directed by Robert Lepage, takes us on man's evolutionary journey; beginning with man's amphibious ancestors, traveling through ape evolution, and leading us into the future. Many legends and myths from Native American culture are tied into the story, along with a playful glance at man's current form, seemingly attached to his brief case and cell phone.
As a Cirque du Soleil virgin, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew there would be acrobats and beautiful costumes, but what I didn't realize was just how intimate the setting inside the Totem tent actually is. Before the show, some of the cast members wander around the spectator seats in character, entertaining guests with quirky charm. Many of the seats hug the stage and those in the front rows will find themselves directly below some of the action as performers swing out over the crowd. The intimacy of the venue allows the crowd to become fully immersed in the story, never missing a moment of the spectacle.
I also didn't expect the show to include as much humor as it did. I suppose every circus needs a troop of clowns and Totem's come in the form of nerdy Italian tourists, bumbling Neanderthals, and beefy, beachside bodybuilders. Another surprise was the live music that accompanied the performances. From the drums of that accompanied the thrilling Native American hoop dancer to the angelic voice of a talented singer narrating a love story, the music was an essential part of the experience.
Of course, the real thrills of any Crique du Soleil performance are the acrobatics and unusual feats of skill performed by an immensely talented group of artists which consistently make the impossible possible. Prepare to squirm with anxiety and squeal with amazement as you find yourself wondering time and time again "how on earth do they do that?"
Totem's engagement in Irvine is limited but there I still plenty of time to catch the action this holiday season. The final performance at the Orange County Great Park will take place December 29th before the tent breaks down and makes it way up the coast towards Santa Monica. For more information and tickets, check out the Cirque du Soleil website.