cirque du soleil

Review: Cirque du Soleil – Corteo at the O2 Arena

Review: Cirque du Soleil – Corteo at the O2 Arena  

Cirque Du Soleil keeps the age-old circus traditions alive by bringing the stylish and exciting show to The 02 Arena. Adam Davidson reviews. 

The World-famous circus troupe Cirque Du Soleil are back in London for a five-night run at The 02 Arena with Cortéo – a show that premiered back in 2005 but has never been shown in the UK before. 

Cortéo, coming from the Italian word for a funeral procession, tells a story of a clown who watches over his own funeral and, accompanied by angels, reminisces about his life. 

The staging before the show was set out like a classical theatre play with curtains creating an intimate setting. The immersion was complete with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and Pierrot interacting with some of the audience. The lights dimmed and the show started with the narration: “I dreamt of my funeral. We were all there, and I lay dead.”  

In the opening sequence smoke and lights created a Fellini-esque dreamlike sensation of a carnival funeral procession. The curtains rolled open and aerial dancers glided through the air on chandeliers whilst a classical singer lamented. It was mind-blowing to see the performers pull off these genuine death-defying stunts with such finesse and grace that it seems as natural to them as walking. 

There was also exciting audience interaction as the crowd became part of the act when in one of the stunts, ‘the clowness’, Anita Szented, floated over both sides of the Arena on giant balloons. Members of the crowd had to keep her afloat by giving her a helpful push when she got too low – the act really got people involved and created excitement all around the venue. 

The second half of the show was filled with more dangerous classics like the trapeze in which the performers were gracefully hurled through the air. There was also a sequence that involved a man climbing up a 20ft ladder and used them as stilts. These kinds of stunts had hearts racing and the audience holding their breaths as the performers risked their lives for our entertainment. 

Certain sections of the show also showcased the troupe’s musical ability with stunts often accompanied by an opera singer or Pierrot on the drums. The music somehow elevated the already majestic and mind-blowing stunts to new heights by adding drama or an extra layer of beauty. 

Previous shows have had outlandish themes in fantasy worlds but Cirque du Soleil have found something special in embracing the classic traditions as they bring the joy of the circus to audiences around the world. 

Image: Corinne Cumming @CapturedbyCorinne