That was the weekend that was in Vancouver…


Back to the keyboard and shift work again. An interesting weekend I think. If I’d have known what tickets we’d been given beforehand I’d have booked a hotel closer to the venue. Although the Metropolitan Hotel on Howe is very nice, and well worth another stay.

Watching Angie struggle with the Skytrain station stairs was hard (No lift or escalator available at Chinatown). It takes a full year to properly recover from a hip implant operation, and although Angie’s doing well on the flat, steps are still difficult for her. I found myself doing my ‘linebacker’ routine, carefully placing myself behind and to one side of her to prevent her delicate recovery being upset by someone in a hurry barging past with their brain in neutral. At this stage of the game I’m painfully aware of how disastrous a fall might be.

Still, we got to the Cirque Du Soleil venue, and finding we were early had to hang around in the cold for about forty minutes, where I introduced Angie to the concept of Smugshots (Posing in such a fashion that you look like you’re physically handling a far off object – kissing the Sphinx, holding the moon, that sort of thing).

Cirque du Soleil, Cirque du Soleil, what do I say about Amerluna at Vancouver? Okay guys, you have got to do something about your sardine like seating plan for the next show. Anyone over six feet tall and even slightly broad shouldered suffers. The last time I was anywhere near this level of discomfort was on a Thomas Cook flight (aka ‘Air Cattle Truck’) from Vancouver to Manchester in Summer 2010, and I swore never again to travel with that company. Sure, if you are under 5′ 10″ tall and slim to medium built, no problem. Anyone bigger is going to suffer cramps in the shoulders and knees which will make the show very much less enjoyable. Considering the price of tickets.

The acrobatics were spectacular, and for me the best part of the show were the antics of the Caliban like character with his prehensile tail. However, they could have left out the disjointed storyline, such as it was. I was left with the overwhelming impression the whole show had been written by a committee for the promotion of ‘diversity’. The narrative made no sense. In fact it rather got in the way of the spectacular performances. For individually they were brilliant. The music was good, the sets remarkable. Unfortunately there were pieces that didn’t fit, and took your mind off the already tenuous ‘story’. For example; in the second half, one gold costumed performer does an incredibly delicate balancing act with large fishbone like sticks, which was all very clever and skillful, but left me thinking; “Okay. What’s that got to do with the price of fish?” Likewise for the twins on unicycles. The promotional material makes much of the latest eco-panic, where some sources predict world water shortages for two thirds of the world’s population by 2025. How does having a six foot half globe of water centre stage relate to that? As for the 70% of the cast being a ‘feminist’ angle; again, so what?

This wasn’t just me; one person in the row in front was distinctly heard to paraphrase Macbeth as we were leaving. I distinctly overheard him say; “That was a tale told by idiots.” All around, I could hear the Canadian tradition of politeness being strained so hard it was creaking. For myself, I was glad to get out and stand at the interval, and would gladly have stood for the entire performance. In contrast to the lack of seating space, the concession prices were massively inflated. Nine dollars for a small plastic glass of distinctly average plonk? Fifteen dollars per show programme? a paperback copy of ‘Head of the Beast‘ isn’t that much more, and there’s a lot more reading in my work. Certainly makes me feel much better about print to order pricing.

Came out of the show, easing the kinks and cramp out of my shoulders to be impressed by the number of stretch limos on the streets outside the Lady Gaga gig at BC Place. We counted over twenty three. Not that I’m a Lady Gaga fan. All very well produced and glossy, but nothing to really write home about, musically speaking. All icing and no cake. Still, it shows where the money is going.

Overall verdict? A nice break, but I’m glad to be out of the big city, back home and working again. Although if I’m offered tickets for Cirque again, I think I’ll demur. Shows like these tempt me to quote 18th Century Lexicographer Samuel Johnson when asked about the Giants Causeway; “Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.”

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Martyn K Jones

A writer who first trained as an Electrical Engineer, then fulfilled various roles within the computing industry. First published in 'SuperBike' magazine, 1978 under the pseudonym Harry Matthews. Since then has written and had published a wide variety of work; from PR copy in trade magazines to supernatural short stories and the occasional satirical article. Emigrated to Canada in 2007. Became a Canadian Citizen December 2014. Now branching out as a serious science fiction novelist.

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