Cirque du Soleil: OVO, Arena Birmingham - review with pictures
There's those moments in life when you feel completely inadequate compared to other humans.
Sometimes it might be being in the presence of an absolute genius, watching a sports star pull off something mesmerising, or seeing a truly awe-inspiring performance from an artist.
Cirque du Soleil, currently holding residence at Arena Birmingham, is very much the third of those.
After a few pints in Wolverhampton's Gorgeous on a Friday night we might think we have the flexibility of a gazelle and dance moves that would be right at home in a pop superstar tour. Then you watch these guys contort themselves and risk injury for our viewing pleasure and you think....'nah, I'm like Theresa May on a Strictly live show'.
Ovo is the latest CdS masterpiece. Meaning 'egg' in Portuguese, it centres around a strange little ecosystem that starts malfunctioning when a new creature arrives carrying a mysterious egg on its back. Like the ring Frodo carries to Mordor in Tolkein's classic, everyone seems obsessed with it. And the newcomer quickly sets his sights on one of the local girls.
The set pieces in this show are absolutely breathtaking. From throwing each other around high above the arena to jumping off walls and bouncing right back up off trampolines wearing the most colourful outfits this writer has seen, it's like being in the mind of Hunter S Thompson on a particularly big bender.
It started on a slight sour note. The Arena had decided everyone should enter through one door only, meaning a monstrous queue around the outside. Some people were still rushing in when the show was getting under way. Given a lot of the - admittedly roughly two-thirds full - audience were in the retired bracket this was causing some consternation.
But that was quickly forgotten. The wonderful critters snuck into the audience at first, tickling us, rubbing heads, playing with children. And then the show kicked off in earnest.
Gymnasts galore star alongside jugglers as they perform on the stage, above it, underneath it, and more.
Highlights included the first set piece set around four little female bugs juggling giant pieces of fruit and corn on their feet while lying on their backs. Their control was amazing.
While some of the aerial dance routines grew a little tiring, the first half closed with trapeze artists throwing girls to each other through the air with such precision and close proximity it was drawing gasps from the audience.
In the second half, a juggler doing ridiculous tricks with up to four diablos drew the largest cheer of the night. While the final set piece involving rock climbers moving around the back wall while others jump off the top and bounce back up off trampolines was cheered haughtily by those who had come tonight.
Saying much more would ruin the whole show, but this is a night out with a difference to the usual gigs and stage productions that travel through the area.
And the nicest touch of the evening was saved for the curtain call. The artists remove their headwear and reveal their 'human features' as long hair cascades down faces and smiles beam from ear to ear. It's nice to see the talent behind the tricks and allows for real appreciation of what we've just seen.
Cirque du Soleil runs at Arena Birmingham until Sunday.