REVIEW: ShangHi Cirque du Ciel, Durham Gala Theatre

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SYNCHRONIZED diablo throwing and juggling with Mexican hats were just some of the dazzling feats on display at ShangHi by Cirque du Ciel when it was performed at The Gala in Durham this week.

The packed audience was on the edge of their seats throughout the two-hour show as the talented and multi-skilled acrobats performed their daring and breathtaking tricks.

A fast-paced and amazing show, the strength and endurance of the cast was clear for all to see as they got their bodies into positions which wouldn’t seem humanly possible – and still managing to smile and laugh at the same time.

Cirque Du Ciel’s ShangHi has captivated audiences across the world and the cast of 30 performers are touring the UK with the show that combines acrobatics with modern dance, martial arts and a host of other Chinese elements, both modern and traditional.

This show was originally directed in China by Cirque Du Soleil’s Guy Caron and reworked – with huge success – to appeal to audiences of all ages.

Tumbling, spinning, monkey poles and beautiful floor routines, along with a wardrobe of gorgeous costumes, make ShangHi a production well worth watching.

Among the acts were women doing gymnastics in hoops in the air and ballet-type performance with the man supporting his partner on his head.

However, it was the talented young boys and their fun, street-style acrobatic dance, which won the hearts of the audience.

There is a Chinese drummer on stage playing along to the music that the acts are performing to, which is an added exciting element to the whole production.

One slight criticism is the start of the show, which is slow and strange and makes you wonder if you’ve wandered into some amateur community production, but about 10 minutes into the show it completely transforms into a fantastic piece of entertainment.

ShangHi is the artistic collaboration between Theatre Productions International Ltd, the Chinese producers and director of Cirque Du Soleil’s massive Las Vegas shows, and was in Durham for just two nights.

However, the show will be returning to the North East at the end of May for a couple of nights at Darlington Civic Theatre for anyone who missed it.