Ovo, by Cirque du Soleil, was undoubtedly wackier than expected.
I have to confess; I didn’t do much research beforehand. So, I didn’t know what to expect. Written, directed and choreographed by Deborah Colker, Ovo, Portuguese for egg, is (presumably) a celebration of the life-cycles of insects and their communities: entwining the mundanities of each insect’s daily routine with show-stopping gymnastics, and perfectly coordinated choreography. However, despite the cast’s spectacular technical performance, I couldn’t help but notice the over-arching storyline appeared slightly contrived.
In the beginning, I was sceptical. I had only been informed the day before that the show was insect-themed, and honestly, I wasn’t enthused about sitting through two hours of dancing bugs. Before the show began, various human-sized insects came out from backstage and started interacting with the audience. I was eyeing up a grasshopper that looked to be getting a little lairy; hopping over audience members with suspiciously bouncy hind legs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust blokes skulking around in grasshopper costumes at the best of times.
The opening created an atmosphere of bustling bug life, with a soundtrack featuring the chattering sounds of various insects to immerse the audience.
You were then introduced to the titular egg: wearily carried on the back of a buzzing blue-bottle-fly. Considering the show was called Ovo, the egg itself seemed somewhat an afterthought; used as a plot device to correlate the three main characters. (A feisty ‘Lady-Bug’, a love-struck fly called ‘The Foreigner’, and one character ‘Master Flipo’ that I’ve not managed to discern the species of – although he wore a rather fetching purple jacket.)
These three clowns popped up between routines, following the same story arc in each appearance. The Foreigner, with the help of Master Flipo, hatches (pun intended) a scheme to seduce The Lady-Bug. It inevitably fails; they depart from the stage, rejected but undeterred. This story may have appealed to a younger audience, but for adults, perhaps is a little simplistic and forced. The hyperbolic portrayal of the characters, the crudeness and melodrama, contrasted heavily with the subtlety and grace of the rest of the characters. It was evident that they were used to fill time while the stage was set up for other acts; fragmenting and disjointing the otherwise fluid piece.
Aside from this, as a show, it was stunning. A particular highlight was a contortionist, who (somewhat creepily) turned out to be the show’s spider. Watching her both fascinated and disturbed me, as she slowly but surely bent and contorted her body into peculiar shapes in time with the music. Her characterisation was oddly amazing. Through a combination of slow, tense music and an incredible sense of rhythm, you could see her as a black widow enticing her pray. (I became mildly concerned about the fate of a couple of stray beetles that had fallen under her allure.)
The collaborative performers were also well synchronised. The ants at the beginning, laying on their backs, rolling giant slices of kiwi across their legs and feet were almost irritatingly in tune with one another. Not once dropping or fumbling with the oversized fruit slices, or even breaking rhythm. (This, quite frankly, was some sort of sorcery at work, and should probably be investigated.)
I would wholly recommend seeing this show, despite the weak storyline. The acts themselves are unmissable. Their remarkable performances and dedication are well worth a couple of poorly-timed jokes by a randy fly. Even if it does bug you a little.
Cirque Du Soleil’s show Ovo will continue to tour around the UK and Ireland until the 21st October before continuing its tour around Europe.