Review: Cirque du Soleil, Ovo
I've become a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil and been simply mesmerised over the years by the jaw-dropping acrobatics and artistry on show.
So I was jumping through hoops myself when I saw the Cirque's latest offering, Ovo, was coming to Sheffield Arena as part of its current UK Tour.
This time I was transported to a fun-filled kingdom of insects to celebrate all things nature. From a comical sassy ladybird to bouncing bugs and even a spider contortionist, only in Cirque world would you be able to combine insects, clowns and gymnastics. But that is exactly what we got.
As always with this family-friendly spectacle, you are entertained before the show even starts as insect clowns and bug-catchers make an impromptu appearance to crank up the giggles with some prodding and teasing of the audience.
Ovo, which means 'egg' in Portuguese, is set in a colourful jungle teeming with life and when a mysterious egg appears, the awestruck insects are curious about the iconic object which represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.
My jaw dropped early on as a swarm of insects appeared on stage to play 'keepie-uppies' with giant pieces of kiwi fruit and sweetcorn, displaying the kind of skills and footwork that made even the Brazilian football team look like pub players.
Love is in the air when a gawky bluebottle arrives and a fabulous ladybug catches his eye, but although the feeling isn't mutual at first, it doesn't deter him from attempting to seduce her with a hilarious display of persistence, which continued throughout the show.
An impressive acrobatic swinging hoop display, a comical spinner juggling act and many hilarious moments from the clowns made for a wonderful first half which not only brought gasps, but also many laughs, from the delighted audience.
Topped off with a breath-taking gymnastics display in which creatures were being flung and caught between trees, it left me longing for more.
The second half began with the introduction of a 'furry spider' contortionist who quickly discarded her long legs to put on a display of extreme physical flexibility while getting into the most mind-boggling positions.
And how about this for a three-in-one treat? … an acrobat performing hand-stands on a unicycle while on a tightrope! Need I say any more, but you have to see it to believe it.
Perhaps the most action-packed display was left until the end with a plethora of bouncing bugs hauling themselves onto a trampoline and pinning themselves onto a climbing wall like stick-insects while also performing somersaults over each other at the same time.
It was all very entertaining stuff and such was the vast amount of talent on display, it seemed apt that every one of the cast appeared on stage to celebrate the long-awaited union of the two lovebugs while saying their goodbyes.
For me it was back to reality and the drive home, but for a couple of hours at least, I really did enjoy being part of the bugs' life.
Ovo continues in the UK until 21st October with visits to Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast.