Varekai is Romany for “wherever,” paying homage to universal wanderers and to the nomadic soul.
In Cirque du Soleil, Varekai is a world, deep within a magical forest, near the foot of a volcano. It is a world of color, fantasy, imagination and possibility.
The show commences when Icarus falls from the sky into the fantastical world of Varekai and his adventure begins. Throughout his journey he encounters the colorful inhabitants of the forest, who guide him in discovering a new world and new beginnings.
Varekai elicits deeply contrasting responses from the audience: some wishing they had left at intermission and others yelling, “Bravo” at every act. So first let’s address what Varekai is NOT. Varekai is not your quintessential Cirque du Soleil show such as Alegria or Quiddam. The breath taking, death defying trapeze acts and Wheel of Death are sorely lacking in this show. Don’t attend expecting to be on the edge of your seat with the spectacular and lavish aerial acts that have become synonymous with Cirque.
Image | DAVID ADAM BELOFF PHOTOGRAPHY
What Varekai is, however, is a colorful world full of energy, music, and standard circus acts including clowns, jugglers and aerial straps. The set, created by Stéphane Roy, includes a 330-pole tree forest in which the characters climb and perform stunts in the background. These trees range from 15 to 34 ft high and are illuminated spectacularly in different acts. The stage itself has five trap doors, two turntables and one elevating platform. The most impressive feature of Varekai’s staging is the intricate catwalk above the stage where various characters descend from.
One of the highlights of the show is the music. Not only is there a live band hidden amidst the forest, a strolling violinist, and two extraordinarily vocal talents, but a bagpiper playing from the catwalk appears throughout the performance. The most breath taking aspect to the show is the Russian swings. In this act acrobats are vaulted from moving swings and propelled through the air to land either on their partners’ swing or in giant canvas nets. In an impressive fete, some acrobats strike wrists with their partner mid-air, alighting their wrists with flames.
art | Walt Taylor
With beautiful costumes, wonderful music, and talented performers, Varekai is an entertaining way to spend an evening in Hampton now through Sunday. But don’t attend expecting the lavish, over the top, death defying circus acts that are normally the signature of Cirque du Soleil.