facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11


First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

Evolved from a band of street performers in a small town in Quebec, Canada, Cirque Du Soleil began in 1984 and has since gone on to become an international hit, with more than 50 million people worldwide having seen the troupe’s jaw-dropping mix of acrobatics, gymnastics, music and comedy. The show Alegría premiered in 1994, but is still going strong in 2006, as the company returns to London. Caroline Bishop went to the Royal Albert Hall for the first night.

Cirque Du Soleil is circus at its most classy. No lions and lame jokes here, instead, the troupe takes what’s best about traditional circus – the acrobatics, the costumes, the wow factor – and cranks it up several notches to create a piece of circus theatre firmly rooted in this century. The acrobats are professional gymnasts and contortionists with seemingly un-human skill, the costumes, designed by Dominique Lemieux, are sumptuous and detailed, and choreography is complemented by the dramatic score by René Dupéré.

Alegría means jubilation in Spanish, and is, according to the show’s creators, a ‘state of mind, a mood’. The show supposedly tackles themes of power handed down over time and the evolution of monarchies to democracies. Er, ok, but whether the first night audience recognised this or not seems irrelevant – the show offered enough visual sights and quality entertainment to please the punters without worrying about a story.

The beautiful Royal Albert Hall is an apt stage for the show, whose design has a touch of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge about it. The assortment of wacky characters include Fleur, the Dickensian hunchback old man who guides the audience through the show; The White Singer, a plump fairy whose vocals tell the story; the Nostalgic Old Birds – a group of fat and fairly grotesque characters with flamboyant, aristocratic costumes; and the two clowns, who provide comedic breaks between the acrobatics.

The characters in Alegría are the backdrop to what everyone really came to see – the acrobats. Performing in turn are trapeze artists, tumblers, fire baton twirlers, the Flying Man on his bungee string, a girl whose hula hoop spinning is more than a bit weird, and a Ukrainian man who balances on one hand on a thin pole while positioning his body in gravity-defying shapes. In true circus tradition, the various stunts and exploits leave audiences gasping both in awe and also with a sort of lurid fascination at some of the unnatural bodily positions displayed by some performers – like the contortionist twins, whose bodies simply shouldn’t do what they do.

Alegría is a visual feast of glitz, glamour and perfectly honed bodies. Will it inspire you to go to the gym and work off that Christmas excess? More likely, you’ll sit back in your theatre seat, munching on your Malteasers, and be content to leave the acrobatic feats to the experts – Cirque Du Soleil.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.