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Theatre Review: Cirque du Soleil’s Echo booms with excitement

Cirque du Soleil returns to Toronto for the summer with its new show "Echo", a circus delight that soars as both performance art and jaw-dropping entertainment - even if some parts are stuck in the clouds.
Cirque du Soleil's "Echo"

It’s always a breath of fresh air when the circus comes to town, and Cirque du Soleil’s newest big top project Echo is no exception. 

Brimming with the grace and harmony of the natural world, Echo is a refreshing delight that soars as both performance art and jaw-dropping entertainment - even if some of its ideas are stuck in the clouds.

Author and director Mukhtar Omar Sharif Mukhtar (best known for his work with Cirque’s long-running The Beatles: Love show in Las Vegas) has composed a loose story using human athleticism to look at the relationship between the natural world, building and re-building.

The plot of Echo follows a girl named Future (Louana Seclet-Monchot) and her best friend Ewai (Philippe Dupuis) who discover a large cube, appropriately called CUBE. When they open the box, they meet dozens of animals that display the way the build, break down and re-build life itself, all under the watch of a mysterious cartographer (Alexandre Humbert).

My interpretation of the story is instinctually a rendition of the creation story, told from the point of view of the animals. Throughout the show, creatures and colours somehow fuse with sound to create life. But maybe that’s what the foundations of life should be.

The dozen or so acts in the show and its featured artists focus clearly on the athletic shapes of the human body. Choreography (both dance and acrobatic) are mesmerizing, and the stark scenery and focus on white, black and red costumes are meant to give as much focus to the human shapes as possible.

What’s thrilling to report is there are no weak links in the cast of acrobats, dancers, musicians, actors and more - every act is thrilling and kinetically staged, with no weak spots. Many of the climatic moments in each act, including plunges, dives, tumbles and spins, are genuinely heart-stopping.


The overall tone of the show, however, is surprisingly graceful and peaceful, almost like a ballet. The story of Future learning how her actions have power to shape this zoological world is as clear as it is simplistic; it’s a strong message, even though the plot itself is mainly devoid of conflict.

Echo’s thematic strength would be greater if there were clear obstacles or challenges the characters had to face, but existing on stage is mainly about letting each of the individual acts have a moment to shine. Every time there’s a whisper of peril to anyone, it’s magically fixed almost instantly.

Es Devlin’s scenic design is definitely minimalistic, which offers both pros and cons. While the stage and its height are effectively used, small cast scenes leave the stage often feeling empty, with minimal production value.

And what about CUBE? The two-story block, while multi-functional in fun ways, is used surprisingly little for a show that has literally only three set pieces the whole night. But when the cube comes out to play, it’s a real showstopper. 

If there’s any doubt on the focus of creation, the staging goes as far to have our leading lady Future, at a pivotal moment, pick a fruit from a tree in the centre of a garden. I also really enjoyed watching CUBE’s assembly and re-assembly throughout the night, enforcing the creation theme.

Aside from some minimal sets, and simple story, there are almost no other weaknesses in Echo’s production. As a complete experience, Echo is one of Cirque du Soleil’s best shows in years, and certainly one of their best tent shows since 2016 and 2022's Kurios.

While appropriate for children, don’t be fooled into thinking this is just for children or young families. Echo is a striking work of theatre, music and circus that will enchant you long after you’ve left the tent.

If there’s one other highlight among the acts, clowns “Double Trouble”, played by Clement Malin and Caio Sorana, might be the best clown act I’ve ever seen. They have two home-run comedy acts with giant boxes that I won’t spoil here, but they alone make the show worth seeing.

So if it’s great art, humanity and wide-eyed wonder you’re looking for, Echo is the can’t miss show of the summer. 

Cirque du Soleil’s Echo

8.5 out of 10

Rated 6+. 2hrs 10mins. Fantasy Circus.

Written and Directed by Mukhtar Omar Sharif Mukhtar.

Music and Lyrics by Hugo Montecristo, Jade Pybus and Andy Theakstone.

Creative Direction by Chantal Tremblay.

Starring Louana Seclet-Monchot, Philippe Dupuis, Clement Malin, Caio Sorana and Alexandre Humbert.

Now Playing at the Cirque du Soleil Grand Chapiteau, 2150 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Toronto, ON. Runs until August 4, 2024.

Tickets range $61-370. Tickets available online here or by calling 1-877-924-7783.


Tyler Collins

About the Author: Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is the editor for Oakville News. Originally from Campbellton, New Brunswick, he's lived in Oakville more than 20 years. Tyler is a proud Sheridan College graduate of both Journalism and Performing Arts.
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