Aspie Mr 10* reluctantly poured himself into the car, and sat looking sullenly out the window.
"You know I hate concerts and shows," he said. "I don't want to go."
"You saw the ad on TV," I said patiently. "You said it looked awesome."
"Well I don't want to go now," he pouted. "I hate crowds and noise. It sounds stupid."
"But I want to go," piped up Miss 8. "Mumma, it's not fair if we don't go."
Before she burst into frustrated tears, I repeated the mantra that I am often forced to speak whenever we go on family outings.
"Well, we're going to go, but if you really hate it C., we'll leave. But you have to give it a try. Okay?"
It wasn't really okay with Mr 10, but he grudgingly agreed. *
It was school holidays, and for a treat (I thought), I'd arranged for us to attend the matinee for Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline.
I'd done this because when we'd seen the advertisement for the show, billed as one of the most dangerous and death-defying on earth, both kids had been enthralled.
"I want to go there!" said H. "That looks awesome!" said C.
And yet, C. was still sulking as we found our seats, which were fabulous, just a few rows back from the stage, and right in the middle.
"Why can't we sit up there?" he complained, pointing at the seats right up in the back of the theatre.
"Because we have seats here," I replied. "And these are better seats because we're going to be really close to the action."
"I don't want to be close," he said. "Someone might fall on me."
"No one is going to fall on you," I replied. "And is there anything else you want to complain about?"
"Yes, actually," he said. "This is the most boring show I've ever seen."
"That's because it hasn't started yet," I said, through gritted teeth, instantly regretting my decision not to purchase alcohol at the bar.
But it was okay because at that point, the clown/mime who opens the show and co-ordinates the whole event - with audience participation and humiliation at the max - began interacting with the crowd.
From that moment, both Mr 10 and Miss 8 were mesmorised. Mr 10 did not stop talking and exclaiming (luckily the music and ooh and ahhs of other audience members meant that wasn't a problem to others), and Miss 8's eyes shone. I didn't know who to look at more - the expression on my happy kids' little faces, or the action on stage. Okay, most of the time the performers won.
(Note to Mummas: Most of the artists/athletes were men. Muscled, handsome, toned men. Most of whom seemed to be spectacularly well-endowed. I had no idea I would enjoy the show quite so much. Ahem.)
Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline was awesome! And the testosterone levels - and the adrenalin - were to the max!
Of course, there are probably bigger and better shows, but as an introduction to the Cirque kind of performance, I don't think you could go past the value for money. And this one was clearly aimed at families.
Prices are reasonable for the talent on display, and I was pleasantly surprised to see there wasn't a load of highly-priced crap for parents to feel guilted into buying for their kids.
Even programs were $10, and the Lyric Theatre sold bottled water for $3, which was a refreshing change.
Of course, as a lucky adult, I've seen a lot of the tricks and stunts before, but at the same time, appreciate how incredible and difficult they must be, and the dedication, strength, and talent required to pull them off. And admire it/be gobsmacked by it, all over again.
As for the kids, it was the first time my children had ever seen anything like this in real life, and they were absolutely blown away. No complaints, requests for food, or need to go to the toilet. They were too busy being entertained.
At times, I swear, I exclaimed even more than they did!
"OMG," I kept hearing myself saying. "Far. Out!"
"The man's pants are pink!" exclaimed Miss 8.
"Why are the men wearing make-up?" asked Mr 10.
At intermission, I asked C. if he wanted to leave. "No, we can stay, I know H. likes it," he said. (See how how he martyrs himself right there? He's staying for his sister's sake, not because he likes the show. Yeah right.)
"I want to see the motorbikes in the cage. There will be motorbikes in the cage you know Mum."
This was the finale of the event, where three daredevil stuntmen ride at high speed around a giant metal cage while a brave woman (one of the mens' wives I believe) stands in the middle. That one is officially called the Wheel of Destiny and is described as the most death-defying circus act of all.
"That was awesome!" said Mr 10, all thoughts of sulking clearly forgotten. "I told you it would be a cool show Mum."
MIss 8 said the entire show was: 'Bloody brilliant!' (And I didn't tick her off for using the word 'bloody', because is it even a swear word any more?)
Either way it was. Bloody Brilliant.
* C. wasn't just being petulant. As a child with Aspergers Syndrome, he is particularly sensitive to sounds, smells, and crowds. He'll often have a minor melt-down before attending something like this, and sometimes, I won't even take him. In this case, I knew he would love the Cirque once it started, so it was worth the effort. It's all part of getting him used to the challenges the world poses for Aspie kids. I was worried about aspects of the show, in particular the loud music, motorbikes, fumes, and lighting effects on C. And although, he did find some of it a little confronting, he was too engrossed to mind. Yes, he did talk, repeat words, and 'flap' a lot on the way home, but it was all very positive.
I also loved that most of the performers/artists were male. For obvious reasons. But I also thought it was a great role-modelling thing, that men can do these amazing art forms and displays of strength and balance and be paid for and admired for doing so. Usually it's girls in skimpy costumes to admire - not that there's anything wrong with that - but it was a nice change.
Disclosure: Maid In Australia received three complementary tickets to Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline for the purposes of this review. But it's definitely worth the price of admission, with tickets started from $39 and special deals for families. Really, compared to most school holiday events, Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline is a bargain.
- Probably best for kids from about the age of 7. There were many kids in the audience but not too many really young ones, who may have been scared by the noise and theatrics. My children, 10 and 8, were right in the demographic and experienced not one moment of boredom. Best of all, I loved it too.
- Don't pick seats near the front and at the sides, unless you enjoy being picked out of the crowd and forced to participate on stage. The mime/clown picked several members of the audience - mainly men - to do silly things on stage. All in good fun, but if you're a shy, retiring type, you may not enjoy it!
- Take water and snacks, both to save money and time queueing. The facilities were way under-catered for the numbers attending.
- Arrive in plenty of time if you have to pick up tickets from the box office. Apparently there are two! We eventually found the second.
Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline is currently playing at QPAC's Lyric Theatre. Parking is $15 per entry, or tickets include the price of free public transport. For details, go here.