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New Cirque goes berserk: Varekai at Wells Fargo Center

Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai” is a bit like a Disney movie on LSD, and it’s wildly entertaining, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Cirque du Soleil acrobat Alona Zhuravel performs a segment of the Cirque's new show, Varekai, at the Franklin Institute on Tuesday. Verekai comes to Philadelphia in September. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro Cirque du Soleil acrobat Alona Zhuravel performs a segment of the Cirque's new show, Varekai, currently playing at the Wells Fargo Center, at the Franklin Institute during a special preview in August. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai” is a bit like a Disney movie on LSD, and it’s wildly entertaining, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In the style Cirque is known for, Varekai, currently touring Philadelphia, takes freely from all of human culture and presents it as a bewildering, primordial glop.

According to the program, Varekai tells the story of Icarus, fallen from heaven and questing to find his identity through a landscape of spirits, animals and elements, but the story is barely present in this circus/dance/musical, which, like Ringling Bros., visually has so much going on it’s difficult to tell where to focus your eyes.

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The music and singing in Varekai sounds like a cross between Enya and Kate Bush. The show, first performed in 2002, appropriates the musical styles of a dozen different European cultures and combines them with incomprehensible lyrics in a made-up language.

The wild dancing and acrobatics are at times straight-up terrifying, like when an acrobat hangs by the nape of her neck from a bar 50 feet above the stage.

Fifty artists from 18 countries perform in a set with 300 trees, five trapdoors in the stage, and a catwalk, and an elevating platform.

In terms of pure spectacle, the juggling, hand-balancing and dancers who juggle other dancers with their legs alone are worth the price of admission.

Cirque du Soleil:Varekai
Wells Fargo Center through Sunday
3601 S. Broad St.
1-800-298-4200
www.comcasttix.com

 
 
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