Similar Cirque de Soleil doesn’t slay

Underused cube feels like an Amazon box on stage

What: Cirque de Soleil, Echo
Where: Cirque Big Top, 2150 Lakeshore Blvd. W.
When: Now, until Sun., Aug. 4
Highlight: Show-stopping closer to first half — won’t give it away, but Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk would approve
Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Why you should go: Cirque newbies will love it, but veteran Soleil-ers might find it a little familiar.

AT ITS BEST, the first new Cirque de Soleil production since COVID-19, Echo, feels like an awesome Sigur Ross concert as antler-adorned musicians roam the stage performing eerie music sung in what could be a Viking language while marvellous feats take place centre stage. At its worst, it all feels just a little familiar, which can sound like sour grapes in a context where almost everything is a feat worthy of marvel.

The new star of this edition is The Cube, a giant block that eats up a massive chunk of the stage and lends itself to Spinal Tap ridicule when not fulfilling any function. At other times, it provides an exhilarating backdrop for aerial feats of wonder.

Wonderment is an essential part of the Cirque scene. Characters express wide-eyed wonder with crackhead-mime intensity regularly as they try to propel Cirque’s notoriously opaque narrative, which is rarely worth referencing. Just know there will be wonder.

The Cube-ist, cube designer Es Devlin, has worked with Beyonce and Kanye, won a Tony and recently had another cube used powerfully by the Canadian Opera Company (COC) for the stunning Don Giovanni production. The cube in the COC production formed a dynamic backdrop for projections while the Cirque cube often remains white or blank. When it works, it’s like an Icelandic glacier, a massive canvas that is used well right off the top of the show by aerial artists on ropes swinging, twirling and climbing the 12-metre cube.

After that, the “iceberg” was more like a giant abandoned Amazon box on the Cirque’s porch, er, stage. Echo will dazzle Cirque newbies while regulars will find it more of the same — with a giant cube.