Review: Cavalia’s ‘Odysseo’ is a ‘Cirque’ of a slightly different color

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It’s hard not to get caught up in the spectacle that is the grand finale of Cavalia’s “Odysseo.” As the cavernous performance space — the largest big top in the world — is almost instantly flooded with water, 63 stunning horses and 47 supremely talented human performance artists splash about the ring in an incredible display of equestrian and theatrical artistry.

The theatrics leading up to this big finish, unfortunately, aren’t all as as awe-inspiring.

Created by Normand Latourelle, one of the original founders of “Cirque du Soleil,” “Odysseo” professes to be “an ode to horse and man.” But this show is clearly a love story that favors its equine stars.

The massive white tent boasts a ‘stage’ equal in size to two football fields. When the horses, often free of reign or bridle, are galloping to and fro, it’s nearly breathtaking. When the horses cede the spotlight to their co-performers, however, the human talent (with the exception of the aerial performers) appears a bit dwarfed by their grandiose surroundings.

Though the look, feel and sound of the production are all quite “Cirque”-esque, there is a distinct lack of death-defying feats by either gymnasts or trapeze artists. Impressive tricks include acrobats that traverse the space in a series of endless back flips at near light speed and several men that leap about, almost pogo stick-like, on urban stilts — but the routines swiftly become familiar, as their repertoire is limited.

At times throughout the show, both horses and riders seem to be repeating their paces. One particular bit feels like the equestrian version of the Westminster Kennel Show. Led by a human handler, the horses walk in a circle in one direction while people applaud. They change directions upon prompting and people applaud again and again. It must be note that, while the routines can feel rote, the audience is primed to be impressed.

And, yes, the trick riding is exciting to watch and a Rotating Carousel — which features stellar aerial acrobatics — is one of the show’s finest moments. But if you go to the Somerville Big Top looking for more of that kind of magic, you might be disappointed.

If you go
Through August 25
Under the White Big Top
201 Assembly Square Drive, Somerville
$34.50 – $219.50
cavalia.net


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