Saturday, March 31, 2012
Voyage de la Vie - Singapore's First Theatrical Circus
Thanks to Resorts World Sentosa, I was recently given a pair of tickets to their ongoing "rock circus" performance Voyage de la Vie as part of their Date Night, as well as a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. As my wife has seen the show previously, I decided to bring my boy Ethan along.
Helmed by former MediaCorp Executive Producer Andrea Teo, who is now the Vice-President of Entertainment at Resorts Wrold Sentosa, Voyage de la Vie features the talents of creative producer Mark Fisher (chief designer of 2008 Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies), Michael LaFleur - a previous imagineer with the Walt Disney Company, Philip Wm McKinley of "Ringling Bros and Barun and Bailey's The Greatest Show on Earth" fame, set designer Ray Winkler (who worked on tours for U2, Generis and the Rolling Stones), and composer and former Singapore Idol runner-up Jonathan Lim.
Featuring a multi-national cast from all over the world, Voyage de la Vie is part circus, part musical fantasy and part theatre. Fans of Cirque du Soleil productions would be familiar with the way in which elaborate oriental-inspired sets, musical scores, athletic circus performers and a touch of drama fuse together in this theatrical production.
The basic story behind the show is one where an office worker escapes a humdrum and meaningless existence (sounds familiar?) to enter a magical fantasy land where the impossible happens.
Quoting from the programme booklet as follows:
"Trapped in a dreary existence, a young man's desire to find meaning and fulfilment in this life leads him to set out on a magical journey of fantasy and imagination in a world beyond ours. Here, he will meet extraordinary characters undergoing breathtaking feats of skill and daring. Through their trials and adventures, the boundaries are blurred between conflict vs resolution, reality vs illusion, temptation vs desire, and imagination vs true love. At the end of his wondrous quest, the young man finally realises his true destiny... To appreciate life, he has to first understand himself."
Like the Cirque du Soleil theatrical circus performances, the show featured pre-performance comedians who in this case came disguised as a pair of bumbling husband and wife tourists. Interacting and teasing the audience together with a stern-looking "security guard" they provided light-hearted entertainment to usher in the mood.
In my opinion, the main show itself scored several hits and misses. The overall choreography was pretty slick and one scene flowed seamlessly into the next without any jarring shocks.
Most of the cast members are highly proficient performers, wowing the audience with their sense of rhythm, athletic grace and military-like precision. I found the performance by the two ladies swinging up on the trapeze heart-stopping, while my son enjoyed the juggler's eye-popping skill in tossing 7 balls up in the air. The archery act with a William Tell inspired shoot-the-apple-above-one's-head act was also impressive.
The sets and costumes are also wonderfully created, transporting one effectively from one scene to the next, with a weird mix between exotic orientalism, nostalgia, punk rock, and a dystopian future. While the contexts of Western-performers dressed as oriental soldiers seemed a little amusing, I liked how the various visual and audio elements fused together.
What could have been improved is the coherence of the script and the role of the main singing character himself. The act of "discovering himself" doesn't really come across very strongly and most of the time, the character appears to be more like a bewildered spectator (like the rest of us) rather than an active participant in the unfurling story. I would also have liked it better if Singapore's cultural context could have been integrated into the overall narrative.
Having said that, I still found Voyage de la Vie highly entertaining. One should view it as a human circus that is infused with a musical score to enjoy what it provides. As the first such performance coming from our shores, we should certainly have something to be proud of.
For more details on Voyage de la Vie, check out the website here. Tickets are available from $48 to $188 from all SISTIC Outlets islandwide.