I was recently offered the chance to see La Nouba with complimentary admission, and I was happy to accept since I wanted to compare its performance today to the one I hold in my memory.
I'd seen the show maybe six years ago, with a toddler in tow, and he was a cranky terror so we have hesitated to go back. In the meantime, I'd also taken in my second Cirque du Soleil show--Mystere in Las Vegas. My impressions of Mystere were far less positive than what I'd thought of La Nouba. After a few years, I started to wonder if La Nouba was as good as I'd thought. Or was it just memory playing tricks on me?
No tricks. The show stands up these years later and reconfirmed for me that my initial reaction was appropriate. It's just a good show. I normally do not consider myself a circus kind of person; in fact, quite the opposite. But this show--with trapeze acts, trampoline work, tightrope walking, BMX bikes, jugglers, and all sorts of clown tomfoolery--is enjoyable for pretty much any audience I can imagine. There's something uniquely odd and yet endearing about the humor of a show like this. It's chock full of random set decorations and costumes that channel Orwell at the same time as Charlie Chaplin. The juxtapositions are jarring, but somehow it all works together.
A few sequences were different. Most of the first twenty minutes looked unfamiliar to me (though maybe that was memory playing tricks again). The crowd favorite, and my own as well, was still the four little Chinese girls who twirled their diabolos (Chinese yo-yos) in an amazing feat, made all the more improbable by their impossibly young ages. The crowd always loves them.
Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.