Toruk - The First Flight is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that is inspired by James Cameron's film Avatar. Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, Toruk - The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film Avatar, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora. The show tells the story of a natural catastrophe threatening to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls. Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky.
The Tree of Souls
This show is very different from every other Cirque Du Soleil show as normally their shows feature a variety of circus acts and have a very simple story however I felt like this show lacked the circus acts as getting the story across to the audience was more important as the story was well developed and detailed, and this was done mostly through the use of dialogue, choreography and puppetry. Although the show lacked the circus acts, it still felt full of the wow factor that Cirque Du Soleil always includes in their shows. The creative team clearly made sure that the acts that were put into the show not only went well with the story but also satisfied the audience by how insanely incredible they were! I'm not going to mention how awesome every act in the show was as this review would be endless however I have few highlights worthy a mention. First highlight was the breath-taking balancing act where the Anurai get ready to perform a ritual for their totemic animal, the Thanator. The act features members of the Anurai Clan demonstrating their balancing skills by manoeuvring over a skeleton (resembling that of Toruk) which is fixed only by a pivot in the middle, tipping and turning all the while and the performers balance was absolutely astonishing! Second highlight were the kites and a boomerang where nearing the final goal of reaching Toruk, the main characters reach the Kekunan Tribe, specialists in flying. Performers manipulate kites, shaped like the wings of the Toruk. The incredible strength that the artists had was unbelievable and you could even feel a little wind created by the overwhelming kites. One Kekunan also throws glowing, three sided boomerangs around the central platform before catching them again, much like horizontal juggling and I don't even know what to say about this act because I was left speechless and amazed by how the boomerangs came back to him no matter how far or which way they were thrown.
The Anurai Clan
The Kekunan Tribe
As mentioned before the show featured and relied on lots of dialogue, choreography and puppetry. The show was narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” who was the only character who spoke in English as other artists speak the Na’vi language on stage. His voice was extremely engaging and powerful as it almost made the arena seats rattle, and everything said by him came out very clear. The choreography by Tuan Le and Tan Loc Nguyen was exceptional and moved the story along more smoothly. Finally, the puppetry... what can I say? It was absolutely spectacular! The team of 6 puppeteers operating 14 different puppets (designed sublimely well by Patrick Martel) that represent the creatures of Pandora did an extraordinary job and deserve a massive Well Done! I have had a chance of trying out one of the Viperwolves puppets at a backstage tour I was invited to (Blog coming soon!) and it takes a lot of effort and talent to manage such a complicated creature. An astounding fact is that the puppeteers are equipped with microphones and make their own animal sounds for perfect synchronization with their movement and the noises made were unbelievably real!
The Toruk operated by the team of puppeteers
115 full beautiful costumes are worn every night (sometimes twice a day), with well over 1,000 items, including shoes, headpieces and necklaces and they're combined exceptionally well with 25 shades of blue invented specially for the costumes. The attention to the detail is outstanding because for example 4 blue-base skin tones were kept in the show to depict the different DNA variations among the Na’vi beings. Both; costumes and make-up were designed magnificently by Kym Barrett. The design aspects that make the show stand out are definitely the majestic projections as there is an impressive number of 40 video projectors used to recreate Pandora. Each scene was set perfectly by the combination of multi-level surface set with colourful and vibrant projections.
The only let down of the production was the music aspect of the show. Cirque Du Soleil's shows always feature a live band however this show didn't which limited the artists and for me it took away the magic of Cirque Du Soleil's well-known live music. I must also mention the horrendous merchandise prices. A simple program was on sale for a ridiculous amount of £20... when I looked inside it I felt a bit ripped off as it didn't really have anything innovative or marvellous about it however this will not affect my review as I am reviewing the show and not the merchandise. I think this and definitely the live music is something that Cirque Du Soleil needs to think about.
This Show Gets:
Overall, this is simply a magical and insanely immersive show! Cirque Du Soleil must be absoutely proud of this phenomenon.