THEATRE/LIVE PRODUCTION: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S TORUK—THE FIRST FLIGHT

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CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S TORUK—THE FIRST FLIGHT

Stop what you’re doing this very instant, and order tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk—The First Flight! If you’re in Los Angeles, you have the opportunity for this week-end only, and then they travel elsewhere in the country, so check-out their website at the bottom of this review for those dates.

Photo by  Jesse Faatz, as is the big one at the top of this page.

Photo by Jesse Faatz, as is the big one at the top of this page.

As many of you know, (especially if you read my December Holiday Gift Guide,) I’m a huge fan of all things Cirque. But this one takes the cake! Toruk is a huge departure for them. Outside of the beauty, creativity, and athletics, it’s something I’ve never seen before. Toruk is the most visually ambitious show Cirque has ever offered us! I found myself uttering “Wow” every few minutes. My friend kept commenting on it all, (in glowing terms, of course,) but I was too awed to respond. (But no worries—every superlative in the book was running through my mind, so get ready to read them all here!)

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Toruk was inspired by the film Avatar, so it’s a full start-to-finish story. I’ve never seen that movie, but it’s totally not a requirement to do so beforehand. And, quite honestly, with Cirque shows, I never care about the tale they’re telling. It’s all about the unbelievably exquisite and ingenious visuals for me. There’s never anything like it anywhere else in the arts. The Cirque du Soleil folks are the most creative people on the face of the planet! No hyperbole—that’s just a fact. The rest of us earthlings are blessed to just be witnesses to their collective genius.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

But, if you’re curious about the narrative, this is how the press release describes it, so much better than I can: “Toruk–The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film Avatar, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.

“When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omatikaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.”

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

My friend tried to follow the story a bit, but I didn’t, because, to me, it wasn’t important. (But, if you’re an Avatar fan, of which there are many, you will love it!) I didn’t even really care about the physical feats this time. This one was all about getting lost in the visuals. And I absolutely adored the magnificent music! If I heard it in a club, I’d be dancing all night!

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

One aspect of Toruk that I wish I had known going in, (because Mr. X gets too nervous seeing dangerous acts, so he would not come with me, which I’ve been miserable about ever since I saw it and now know he had nothing to be fearful of,) is that this show has no real danger acts; only astonishing ones! And there are no real “variety” acts, like the trapeze, the tightrope, and someone climbing sky-high chairs. And also no clowns (thankfully, for me–I’m not scared of them–I just hate them, maybe because of an experience I had when I was in a circus. But that’s a story for another time.) While it does feature several daring and exciting performances, (like aerial silks and a bit of acrobatics and balancing,) that’s not the main feature of this production. It’s much more about the spectacular, amazing, and stunning effects.  And the cleverness, too. The ingenious “puppets,” the stunning projections, and the unbelievable visual effects are what it’s all about with this one. And as an example of the non-danger this time, one of the most mesmerizing parts of the show is a boomerang and kite act! Who could have imagined that?! I’ve really never before experienced anything quite like this show.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Toruk does have a few of the attributes of all the Cirque du Soleil shows that I’ve been fortunate enough to see. One is that there’s constant movement. Performers flip and jump at the drop of a hat (or of a codpiece, in this case); part of the set is even disguised trampolines. (My friend said, “Oh look—they must be rubber!” Duh.) Another is that, all of a sudden, characters are right next to you, speaking from the audience. I know it’s a bit corny, but it is always fun to witness. (At one point, my friend whispered, “I don’t know where to look first!”)

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

And this time, there’s a technological innovation—an interactive app! (And it’s free.) They somehow “notify” you when it’s time to hold up your phone, which you do facing out. When the audience does it ensemble, it looks like there are stars, etc., in the audience! Very cool. But for me, as fun as it was, it was more than a bit distracting. I always want everyone in an audience to put their phones away for an entire show, (which they rarely do, anyway) so this gave them an excuse to keep them out, and do everything from checking their emails to texting, to even recording the show!!! (I can’t tell you how many people were doing that! Shame on them.) And the added visuals were so not necessary; the show is so fluid and captivating that even people with ADD will be spellbound by it, without needing any extras! But if you do want to take advantage of that perk, just make sure that your phone is fully charged going in.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

So, you are nutty if you have the opportunity to see Toruk and miss it. I swear, I don’t usually see shows twice, but I’m so sad that Mr. X missed out on this beauty the other night, that I really want to take him to see it on Sunday. Which means that I will have seen Toruk twice in four days! And that will be just the perfect way to spend the day after my birthday. I’ll have gotten my wish!

Toruk—The First Flight running through January 15, 2017  (The day after my b-day!!!)
The Forum   3900 W. Manchester Blvd.  Inglewood  www.cirquedusoleil.com.toruk

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