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REVIEW: TORUK – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil

by EricaL (follow)
Writer, blogger, Mum-of-two. Editor of melbourne.kidtown.com.au
Age 10 plus (291)      Age 5 to 10 (170)      Live Show (57)     
TORUK - The First Flight at the Rod Laver Arena

I took my 9yo along to the opening night of TORUK – The First Flight at the Rod Laver Arena knowing full well this would not be a regular Cirque du Soleil performance, and that’s exactly the right mind-set to be in when going to watch this incredible show.

TORUK – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil / Image provided

TORUK – The First Flight is a visually spectacular portrayal of the faraway moon ‘Pandora’ and its resident native blue tribe the ‘Na’vi’. The show is inspired by James Cameron’s movie sci-fi hit AVATAR, albeit set some 3,000 years before the famed movie depicted Pandora’s invasion of humans.

TORUK – The First Flight portrays a moment in history when a natural disaster on Pandora saw the Na'vi doing everything in their power to save the Tree of Souls.

TORUK – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil / Image provided

AVATAR fans were first introduced to the Tree of Souls in the movie, in which it demonstrated the pivotal role the sacred site had in being part of the Na’vi’s cultural identity. Essentially the tree is the heart and soul of the Na’vi and the entire race would be in jeopardy without it.

The movie portrayed the assault of the Tree of Souls by humans, thousands of years ahead of The First Flight story. However, the spiritual site of the Na’vi was threatened before the arrival of humanity, and this performance focused on one of those times when Tree of Souls suffered from a potential catastrophe.

TORUK – The First Flight could have been a movie prequel (perhaps one day it will be) but instead, James Cameron and Cirque du Soleil worked together to create this visually stunning live adaptation of life on Pandora.

The set design, prop use, lighting and costumes together are what make this production stand out. I have yet to see anything to match it. TORUK – The First Flight is a visual smorgasbord of fluorescents lights and lush exotic landscapes. The visual representation of Pandora is beautifully done, right down to the Hallelujah ‘Floating’ Mountains, light projected waterfalls and hot volcanic lava.

The costumes for each performing artist looked as authentic as they could be from an otherwise computer generated blue Na’vi character as seen in AVATAR. Cleverly, these costumes were crafted in a way to portray the elongated look of a Na’vi figure, depicted as much longer and leaner than humans.

Remembering Pandora is filled with wild and wonderful creatures, the creators of TORUK – The First Flight chose to use puppetry to craft these ‘other-worldly’ beings rather than succumb to animatronics. Utilising the skills of a world-renowned Puppet Master, these remarkable critters weave gracefully across the set, guided by puppeteers using string and wires. New creatures appear in TORUK – The First Flight, ones not seen in the movie, each creature entering the set like a walking piece of art. However, The Toruk (Great Leonopteryx) marionette with its 40-foot wingspan is undoubtedly the most striking.

The Toruk

Taking all the above into account, it is important to remember that TORUK – The First Flight is far from your usual Cirque do Soleil performance. There are no ‘death-defying’ stunts, there is no clowning and acrobatics are somewhat minimal. While this may disappoint die hard Cirque fans, it is perhaps better not to compare to other Cirque du Soleil shows because TORUK – The First Flight is a show completely out there as one of its own.

Would I recommend going to see TORUK – The First Flight with children? Absolutely, although possibly not for the under 5s as they might not follow the story.

My 9yo really enjoyed the performance, we both did. We have both since Na’vi-gated the internet to piece together the bits behind the story we didn’t quite understand. I recommend you do the same.

TORUK - The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil

Where: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
When: 2 – 5 & 10 – 12 November 2017
Book: www.ticketek.com.au available to book from 6 June, 2017
Web: www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk
Facebook: facebook.com/torukthefirstflight

#Live Show
#Age 5 to 10
#Age 10 plus
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