Sarah Romanowsky, Aurelian Roulin, Christine Ivy,
Michael Pena, Jill Otte, Ripley Rader, Jennifer Shields,
and Sunny Soriano in Beyond...
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Sarah Romanowsky, Aurelian Roulin, Christine Ivy,
Michael Pena, Jill Otte, Ripley Rader, Jennifer Shields,
and Sunny Soriano in Beyond...
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Beyond..., currently playing the El Portal Theatre in Hollywood, lacks the magic that flows through the epic productions of its obvious inspiration, the Canadian company Cirque du Soleil. While there are talented creators in the midst, the music is canned, the choreography is unimaginative, and the feats of amusements are short and far between.

Created by gifted aerialist Aurelien Roulin, the production is a hodgepodge of performance styles, including 40's American Swing, Bollywood, Arabian Nights, and French Can-Cans.

Alex David portrays a silent character who appears throughout the proceedings, and seems meant to represent every-boy. He captures a Candide-like innocence, although he (and other cast members) mugs way too much and continually begs for applause. But despite his presence, the evening lacks cohesion.

Different ensemble members take turns choreographing numbers, which adds to the unevenness. When the cast dances together, they're imprecise. Similarly, their lip-synching rarely matches the pre-recorded tracks that they're performing, which can disrupt several enjoyable numbers, like "Forbidden Temple" with lively Indian dancing led by Kavita Rao.

The moments when the acrobats take center stage work best. Ganchimeg Oyunchimeg is a masterful contortionist, turning herself into a pretzel, balancing her body with one hand on stilts -- or most awe-striking, holding up her entire body with her teeth biting on a pole.

Roulin and Sunny Soriano do two numbers on the Spanish Web, one where he acts as a snake with her body slowly slithering down to the ground. This act in "New Birth" captures the eroticism missing from the rest of the show, but the moment is ruined when the chorus crawls out writhing in mock passion and David bangs vehemently on a staff almost double his size. Thankfully, the scene ends on a high note, as Roulin and Soriano swing through the audience like persecuting angels of death.

The costumes fare better for the women (with wide bright feather headdresses, traditional Indian saris, Can-Can garbs, and sassy French party dresses that Givenchy might have designed for Audrey Hepburn), but the men are in pink shirts and Cummerbunds with spangled tuxedos that make them look like rejects from the 70s show Solid Gold.