Running away with the Cirque… us!

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Yesterday, I took Mrs. Lydonwrites and Mother Lydonwrites to see the Cirque du Soleil show DRALION. I owed Mother Lydonwrites for her birthday in November, and this was the Mrs’ Xmas gift, but of course, I went along too. If you’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil, you don’t know that seeing it is a gift to yourself, even if it’s the second time you’ve seen a particular show. Allow me to explain.

Way back when I worked at the Walnut Street Theater, I got the chance to see DRALION when it toured that year. This was about, oh, 2000, 2001? Something like that. I’d been to the circus, so I was prepared not to be impressed. When I heard it was at a vacant lot on Broad & Washington Streets, I also thought, what, no animals? Clowns and acrobats? LAME! Well, I wasn’t going to turn down a free ticket from the then-communications manager, and so I went with a couple of friends from work.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, and was happily speechless at having been such cynical d-bag. In fact, it was so good that I went to see additional Cirque shows when they returned to Philly. If Quidam and Kooza ever tour to where you live (and both these shows DO tour the US), go see them!

Back to now, we took in the show at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, where the Temple Owls usually play/shatter dreams at basketball. In all the time I’ve spent finishing my degree at Temple, I’ve never been inside. Not bad, better than Stabler Arena in the Lehigh Valley. I would say it was probably a stupid idea to only have 2 guards with scanners checking in ticket holders to a seemingly sold-out matinee show. Tickets aside, once inside, the clowns were already circulating. And no, these clowns aren’t your face-painted, oversized shoe, water-squirting flower type clowns, but more of the old improvisatori/buffone clowns of antiquity, updated for modern times. Mrs. Lydonwrites and Mother Lydonwrites even found themselves part of the clowning act, as they got to throw confetti at Giovanni’s (one of the clowns) wedding to an unsuspecting young lady who came to see the show!

Then, of course, we saw DRALION unfold, with me taking in a second viewing 10 years after my original viewing of the show. I was wowed just as much a second time, especially because there were things I didn’t remember. Like the thing with the things, revolving and deadly? Awesome! And the Asian contortionists bending this way and that and stuffing themselves inside small things? Stupendous! Trampolines! Jumping through hoops! Human pyramids doing double dutch! And the singers! And the BAND! Cripes, the band! Best music for a circus EVER! Even counting Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Uz Jsme Doma!

I’d say more with my powers of description, but trying to explain a Cirque du Soleil show is almost futile. It really does have to be seen and experienced to be believed. When you do, you’ll still wonder how human beings can do the things they do in those shows and still be considered human, and not runaways from KevinMLD and PTB’s world of comics. Even Patton Oswalt’s funny description of Cirque du Soleil from his Werewolves and Lollipops album as being “everything is wet and naked and gay and on fire, all at the same time” doesn’t come close, but it does hint at the hard-to-describe, mind-bending things on display at DRALION, and indeed, any other Cirque du Soleil show.

It’s over now, but keep an eye out for future touring productions. Or just wait until Zarkana opens this summer at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

Or, ya know, catch Cirque in LA or Vegas or its homebase of Montreal. It’s up to you. Go get your mind bent.

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