Moore Park, September 13. Until November 25

With a long residency and tickets ranging up to $329 for a bells-and-whistles VIP experience, Cirque du Soleil are banking heavily on Sydney’s continuing love affair with its spandex-clad whimsy and fancified feats of athleticism.

Last year’s stadium retread of Saltimbanco pushed the friendship somewhat. But Ovo, presented in the company’s cathedral-sized tent, is the nouvelle circus behemoth at its beguiling best.

Conceived and staged by Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker, the show’s narrative premise is pretty thin. In short, a nervy blue fly (French clown Barthelemy Glumineau) drops a mysterious egg into an insect kingdom, which confuses all the bugs no end. The fly then falls in love with a roly-poly ladybird (the sassy Michelle Matlock), who makes him jump through a couple of hoops before they kiss. Basically, this is a rom-com for five-year-olds.

The egg probably has some symbolic meaning but Colker leaves you free to completely ignore it and focus instead on the acts, which range from the sublime (a graceful cord lisse duet by Ukraine’s Dmitro Orel and Svitlana Kasevarova), to the surreally funny (a writhing, bopping heap of flexible tubing that seems to belong to another show entirely).

Other highlights include a brilliant sequence of foot juggling by a sextet of ants, an audacious slack wire routine, and a sinuous display of strength and balance by Russia’s Svetlana Belova, who twists and turns herself through a sequence of spidery swastikas.

The clowning – between Glumineau’s buzzy “Etranger” and Simon Bradbury’s pot-bellied “Flipo” - is long-winded but it’s less a good deal less exasperating than some we’ve seen from Cirque’s humouristes over the years.

Ovo’s feats of human suppleness and strength will come as no surprise to Cirque fans. What might is the vivacious score by Brazilian Berna Ceppas, which ditches the trademark blancmange of chanson, prog rock and pop opera for a seductive blend of bossa nova, samba and groovy Tropicalia, played by a terrific band. 

For once, a Cirque du Soleil show that is a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.

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