Sunday, September 22, 2013
I am not sure how word reached me that Cavalia was going to be a once in a lifetime not-to-be-missed theatrical event. It must have been a trusted source, not from my actual circle, most likely one of my celebrity friends. Walking the boardwalk to Docklands, I saw a banner with a horses eye and a quote from US late night host, Letterman or Leno or whoever describing it as the single greatest performance they had attended. With that hyperbole, and an awareness that it was the co-founder of Circ de Soliel at the helm, you could say I had some preconceived notions of what I was getting in for. I knew their would be majestic horses, and by the bit of buzz that reached my ears, spectacular showmanship. I would not describe myself as a 'horse' person. You either are or you're not, if you are, most likely you are nodding your head vigorously right now. But I am a curious person and keen to facilitate memorable experiences for my eight year old and with a couple of freebie tickets I was feeling pretty upbeat.
Fifty one horses from a dozen different breeds. More than 20 performers. Had I checked the website I would have learned I was about to witness 'a symphony of colours and emotions, the central theme of which is the beauty and magnificence of our four legged artists' or to break it down in layman terms: horses, performers, live music and multimedia.
And it was spectacular, really. Mist (or was that a smoke machine?) covering the sandy stage, snow drifting down from the heavens (cleaning fluid pumping out bubbles). Skilled horse-men and women on horse back, standing, dancing, sitting, leaping and hanging upside down from the horses. Occasionally they were joined by performers on aerial wires, taking the action into the sky. In an effort to modulate the experience – the sequences, not exactly narratives, more like fragments built on setting, sound, costume and lighting – would shift in tempo. On slow setting, a strong fantasy element emerged. Maidens with flowing hair, flowing silk gowns, leather bodices like they'd wandered out of Sherwood forest. Everyone on horseback had long flowing hair. In the high tempo sections the mood was a bit tougher. Burning man tough. In row D I had the opportunity to study the hair. I saw a lot of hair extensions and dreadlocks. In these sequences the horse whisperers wore crushed velvet, pendants and cuffs.
During intermission I looked around for Kath & Kim. This mix of hippy bogan would have been right up their alley. Am I being a snob? It's true, I've been raised on Melbourne International Festival theatre productions. This was something else, believe me.