Flashy stunts, sketchy story in Cirque du Soleil's ‘Volta’

Flashy stunts, sketchy story in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’

At the outset of “Volta,” the Cirque du Soleil show now under the big top in San Francisco, a lively host named Mr. Wow greets ladies and gentlemen with a promise they’re about to see the greatest talent show on earth.

A similar exclamation was laid to rest in 2017 with the demise of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, ending a century-old American tradition, which, in its final years, added extreme sports to its lineup of elephants and trapeze artists.

Interestingly, BMX bikers close out this edition of Cirque, which has street vibe stunts and ragtag costumes (by Zaldy Goco) apparently to draw in younger audiences.

“Volta,” after the ringmaster-reminiscent opening, serves up great feats set to electronic music and flashing lights as contestants in Mr. Wow’s game show perform: Five Japanese athletes in glittered jumpsuits speedily skip rope, even on their hands; Cambodian juggler Dina Sok dazzles; Bradley Henderson spins in a hoop; and Marie-Lee Guilbert balances on the head of unicyclist Philippe Bélanger.

Then comes the classic semi-comprehensible Cirque story (by director Bastien Alexandre). The hero, young blue-haired Waz (Joey Arrigo), a dancer on the game show, undergoes a transformation. Having apparently been mocked by automaton-like soldiers carrying cellphones, and later, newspapers, Waz meets healing free spirits, headed by a roller skater (Paola Fraschini), whose feather-like headdress uncomfortably references indigenous peoples.

Pawel Walczewski swings from a lamp in “Volta.” (Courtesy Matt Beard)

In his older incarnation, Waz has an exciting solo: Pawel Walczewski, who flies through the air on a hanging light fixture, is one of “Volta’s” multiple acts showcasing amazing aerial artists. A group swings on rings and bounces on bungee lines; Kia Eastman and Charlotte Sumian climb and balance on a hanging ladder; gymnast twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton powerfully balance on straps; and, to the audience’s particular delight, the scantily clad Danila Bim (in a flesh-colored leotard with strategically place jewels), spins on a rope attached to a bun atop her head.

Mr. Wow, Andrey Kislitsin, does double duty as a clown in both acts, in too-long solo bits involving washing machines and balloons that have little to do with the plot.

Story aside, as is the case with many Cirque productions — “Volta” is the 19th to hit the Bay Area in 30 years– the best acts are the heart-stopping group stunts executed by perfectly synced performers.

It’s worth the price of admission to witness gravity-defying, spinning bikers on ramps; bouncers on trampolines hitting the top of a building in superhero fashion and acrobats diving through strategically stacked hoops. They’re truly mind-blowing.

REVIEW
Volta
Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Where: Big Top, Third Street and Terry A. Francois Boulevard, S.F.
When: 8 p.m. most Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. most Fridays-Saturdays, 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sundays; 1:30 p.m. Dec. 24 and Dec. 31; closes Feb. 3
Tickets: $54 to $290
Contact: www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta
Note: “Volta” runs Feb. 13-March 24 in San Jose.Bastien AlexandreCirque du Soleil ]Danila BimJoey ArrigoPawel WalczewskiTheaterVoltaZaldy Goco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, is consoled at a vigil to honor her brother, who was killed by Daly City Police on April 7, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supporters march for SF man killed by Daly City police

Struggle over fake gun ends in shooting of 44-year-old Roger Allen, DA says

Syd Mandelbaum created the home run tracker, which revolutionized statistics in major league sports. (Courtesy photo)
Home run tracker, with roots at Candlestick Park, marks 30 years

When Giants first baseman Brandon Belt slugged a solo home run in… Continue reading

Curfews on indoor dining have been lifted as The City continues to reopen business. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City to allow expanded indoor dining, limited indoor concerts and small conferences

With new COVID-19 cases remaining stable, San Francisco will continue to expand… Continue reading

Johnny Cueto P was the starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants against the Cinnanti Reds, Wednesday. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Cueto leaves with injury as Giants take series from Reds

A latissimus dorsi injury to Johnny Cueto cast a dark cloud over… Continue reading

Most Read