As soon as we enter Horncastle Arena is clear we’re not in Christchurch, or the same solar system for that matter, anymore. Cirque du Soleil’s flawless, elaborate transformation of the multitasking venue into the magical, otherworldly planet moon of Pandora from James Cameron’s box office smashing movie Avatar is so convincing, precise, huge and in your face that you literally feel like you are part of the performance.
Set thousands of years before the Cameron’s epic flick, TORUK follows the adventures of two big-dreaming unlikely heroes/plucky young Na’vi as they set about saving their beloved planet by finding five sacred talismans and taming the winged apex killing machine known as Toruk for some Flintstones’-style transportation. Known for their ability in pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the human body, the Cirque troupe can now add pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with next-level staging too.
While the nimble, blue-bodied performers effortlessly display their jaw-slackening, signature feats of ridiculous strength and gravity-defying aerobatics (including one eye-widening routine atop the seesawing ribcage of an enormous dinosaur skeleton!) the stage itself is one of the biggest stars. Whether flooding with water, transforming to a lush jungle under threat from circling Toruk, spewing lava, or conjuring spectacular rock slides and enduring bone-rattling earthquakes, the cutting-edge production and design (utilising 40 film projectors) adds a thrilling amusement park ride element to the proceedings.
Essential viewing for anyone who ever dreamed of running away to join the circus, TORUK – The First Flight makes you feel like you’re part of the show. Do.not.miss!
Cirque du Soleil: TORUK – The First Flight
Christchurch, Horncastle Arena, to 10 September
Auckland, Spark Arena, 15 – 24 September
Images: Jesse Faatz Costumes: Kym Barrett © 2015 Cirque du Soleil (main and above) and Matt Beard © 2017 Cirque du Soleil (top)