You don’t need to love horses to love Odysseo. This second incarnation of what some describe as “Cirque du Soleil with horses” features fluid aerial artistry and jaw-dropping theatrics in between, well, horsing around. Luckily for Toronto, the show has been been extended until the end of May.
Performer Brennan Figari was snatched from competition in America’s Got Talent way back in 2011. Originally from Woodacre, California — “You haven’t heard of it either!” he quips during our phone interview — Figari spent years fascinated by aerial arts and began touring extensively on cruise ships and in shows.
Now, working with horses, he has added an exciting dimension to what might otherwise be a daily grind. “How you interact with each individual horse varies greatly,” he says. “They’re just like people. Some of them are playful while others are more stern and serious.”
Odysseo’s showpiece number, “Liberty,” opens the second act and displays the horses’ autonomy. The curtain rises on a dozen steeds of various breeds lying on the ground.
What follows is an exercise in mutual trust and animal-human relationships as the horses corral around the sculpted cast members (including Figari), culminating in eight performers followed by four horses weaving complex patterns and configurations. All of this without bridles, saddles or restraints of any kind.
“I’ve been doing this show for three and a half years,” Figari says, “and it’s never the same show twice.”
Whether you’re drawn to Odysseo to see the intensity of equestrian theatrics or to see shirtless muscle hunks hanging from hoops by their necks, catch this sensation before it leaves the city.