South Street Seaport
Imagine Cirque du Soleil crossed with a “Victoria’s Secret runway show,” and you’ve got the essence of Désir, said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. This new show from neo-carnivalists Spiegelworld is a breathtaking “80 minutes of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling gymnastics,” intended to be more erotic spectacle than dramatic play. Performed by a “young, comely, and exceedingly supple cast,” Désir is set against the loose backdrop of an early 20th-century Paris burlesque club. Hard-bodied performers fly about the stage, engage in daisy-chain formations and liaisons dangereuses, and seductively contort themselves into positions best not tried at home.
Unfortunately, Désir’s “eroticism fails to deliver,” said Joy Goodwin in The New York Sun. The show “flirts with the transgressive and the audacious,” but is reluctant to commit. Several numbers—including a woman flouncing around in a butterfly costume and a man doing what seems to be Pilates—are downright boring. The outré style is generally reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge—no surprise, since John O’Connell choreographed both. Director Wayne Harrison also borrows from Luhrmann, juxtaposing cabaret and period costumes with a contemporary pop soundtrack. Désir probably won’t give you the sexually charged feeling of being backstage at a Paris nightclub. But the in-your-face acrobatics are truly jaw-dropping, so it will “give you a front-row seat at a virtuoso display of agility and strength.”
Which is reason enough to step into Spiegelworld’s fantastical mirrored tent, said Mark Blankenship in Variety. Acrobats Marieve Hemond and Annie-Kim Dehry evoke gasps with their “aerial square” routine, as they “hang off each other like hooks” and perform “midair flips in unison.” The quartet of Russian tumblers known as Evolution are nothing short of spectacular, practically redefining the human pyramid. Such acts may not add up to much, but in the case of Désir, it’s best “to focus on the parts, not the whole.” They’re just enough to leave you desiring more.