The world-renowned Cirque du Soleil brings Agganis Arena to a whole different level of entertainment by taking the audience on a theatrical journey of complex circus routines. With the help of a pinch of comedy and a powerful soundtrack, “Quidam” is a reminder of what it was like to attend the circus as a kid and be impressed by the abilities of the human body.
“Quidam,” which alludes to the anonymity that everybody seeks at one point in their lives, combines the abstract character characteristic of Cirque du Soleil shows with a hint of the real world. As it stated on the shows program, “it is an examination of our own world.”
Often it is hard to follow Cirque du Soleil plots. The circus factor of the show can take up a lot if not most of the spectators’ attention, leaving the theatrical qualities up for the enjoyment of a few connoisseurs. “Quidam” is different. In the beginning, a clear scene is set: a little girl that seems bored of her own life at home creates an imaginary world in which she begins to enjoy life more as the show progresses. It is in that first scene that the character of Quidam appears. A faceless man carrying an umbrella and a blue hat—one that Zoe, the girl, takes with her throughout her imaginary journey—marks the entrance to the quasi-real world in which the show develops. Always seen with the blue hat, Zoe, remains in most scenes throughout the show. It is she who leads the audience on the journey of internal examination.
The combination of a theatrical plot and impressive circus acts is what brings “Quidam,” like other Cirque du Soleil shows, to another level. For those not interested in a story, a series of ten extraordinary routines are scattered in the two-hour long performance. Here are some of them.
For the first act, a man rolls out in what seems like a hamster wheel. At first glance, it seems like a simple strength act, but as the scene evolves, the acrobat maneuvers the wheel to defy gravity. He spins and twists the wheel as if it where part of his own body, stopping right before reaching the end of the stage.
Think Double Dutch multiplied by five. An impressive twenty-person routine featuring solo and group skipping acts keeps the spectator’s eye fully entertained. The performers jump from one rope to the other with exceptional grace, making the stage look like a coordinated playground. Towards the end, all 20 jumpers take part in a grand skipping act that seems like a moving spider web.
A group of two men and three women hang from ropes that drop from above. As their act evolves, their bodies seem like objects being spun around the ropes (almost like a human diabolo). In the most amazing part of their performance, all five acrobats roll themselves up in the ropes only to let themselves go, stopping barely before touching the ground.
In an impressive presentation of strength, a man and a woman work together to create complex poses using only their bodies. Each pose is amazing, but one of them takes the show. As the man remains in a legless push up position, the woman balances her body on top using her arms and upper body to hold on.
After nine acts of human dexterity and strength, the final act takes the cake. A group of acrobats move around throwing others up in the air. At one point, those being thrown up almost seem like objects. But the ending was the most shocking part of the show, causing gasps in the audience. Three men stood on each other’s shoulders, forming a human totem pole. Soon after, a woman was propelled up to create a four-person human pole.
*Act names are taken from the “Quidam” press kit.
“Quidam” premiered in April 1996 and has been presented in five continents since that time. It features 52 international performers including acrobats, actors, singers and musicians.