Photo: Matt Beard

We’ve been to see Cirque du Soleil’s shows quite a few times now, although we’ve not encountered Alegria before. It is, in fact, one of the circus troupe’s oldest shows – premiering in 1994, and last revived in London in 2006, it’s now known as Alegria: In a New Light, reflecting that it has been updated for today’s audience. Having reviewed 2023’s Kurios and 2022’s Luzia we knew the sort of thing to expect, though – essentially two hours of some of the best circus you’re likely to see. There’s a reason Cirque du Soleil have their reputation and have enjoyed such enduring success: these are some of the most talented performers in the world.

Alegria is all about the winds of change and it tells a story of resilience and hope. An emerging movement vows to shake up the established order, which is defended by a gaggle of aristocrats and their wannabe king – the intention is to bring light and harmony to a kingdom gone astray. Good luck deciphering that from actually watching the show, however – we only gleaned this information from reading the programme notes afterwards. The narrative has never been too integral to a Cirque du Soleil show, though – the stunts are what people have come to see.

It makes sense that this is one of their oldest shows; many of the set-pieces feel smaller and more intimate than their recent productions, presumably harking back to a time when the troupe wasn’t regularly performing in spaces as vast as the Royal Albert Hall. That doesn’t mean they don’t impress, of course – there are some beautifully-choreographed sequences, and of course plenty of routines involving jaw-dropping displays of strength, timing and precision. From the opening scenes involving acrobats backflipping onto each others’ shoulders, to the flying trapeze grand finale, Alegria certainly has its fair share of genuine ‘wow’ moments.

Like all Cirque du Soleil shows, this is a family-friendly, circus-inspired affair, so there are some silly comic relief sequences which may not land so well with adults. We did quite enjoy the clowning segments in Alegria, however – some were better than others, admittedly, but the snow storm moment is visually-striking and a scene which was choreographed in time with an accordion player was genuinely very humorous. On that note we ought mention the music – the live band is excellent and the singers impress throughout.

We had an enjoyable evening with Cirque du Soleil – if you’ve never seen one of their shows before you can probably add another star on to the rating below, as seeing this troupe for the first time is a genuinely wonderful experience. For those familiar with their work, this update of Alegria is a solid entry in their canon – yet another feat of spectacular circus trickery which is well worth checking out.

GAY TIMES gives Alegria: In a New Light – 4/5

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