PY1: Through the Echoes – Has Potential, But Didn’t Live Up

What would you expect from the creative mastermind behind Cirque du Soleil?

Nothing short of spectacular, right?

Maybe it’s because of those high expectations that I was left wanting more after seeing Guy Laliberté’s newest project, PY1: Through the Echoes. But that’s exactly how I felt leaving the pyramid after seeing the show last week.

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Through the Echoes

A statement by the show’s production house Lune Rouge Entertainment (founded by Laliberté) called it “an immense 60-minute multimedia show. Audience members will be surrounded by lasers, 360-degree projections, kinetic video aerial scenery, atmospheric special effects and spectacular lighting. Immersed in high-quality soundscapes, they will explore the thread of space and time, from our origins to our possible futures, as if in a waking dream.”

Sounds pretty cool, right?

And it does start out that way. After getting tickets checked outside, guests enter the first, smaller pyramid, which just has a merch section, before heading into the larger,25-metre-high one. This is where the action takes place. As soon as we entered, we noticed people before us grabbing bean bags by the door and getting comfy on the floor by a large, mysterious sphere.

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The mysterious globe represents the Earth.

We decided to do the same and, as we were one of the first inside the pyramid, got front-row seats, right in front of the embossed globe. (To be fair, in retrospect, I think the show is better experienced sitting at the back.)

We lay on our backs, looking up towards the pyramidion, calm, soothing music playing in the background. Colourful wisps of fog danced overhead, emphasized by colourful lasers. This was probably my favourite part of the entire experience. It was so relaxing, so utterly ZEN that I caught myself drifting off a few times.

The actual show is supposed to be “a technological and emotional odyssey which tells the story of life from the Big Bang until today,” according to Laliberté.

While I appreciated the fact that it truly was something unique, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, that story was entirely lost on me and overall, it wasn’t my cup of tea, especially considering the $50 price tag attached to the event (I’ve read that some people paid as little as $25, but our tickets, purchased online off the official website, came to $58.64 each after tax).

I found the imagery to be grotesque, overbearing and disjointed, without telling the story it was supposed to tell. I also expected more laser theatrics, but the show mostly featured imagery projected on the pyramid’s ceiling and walls. These images were often some sort of geometric shapes playing over and over in a sequence until the next “chapter” came on.

It felt like it was trying too hard to be innovative and cutting-edge that it crashed and burned in the process, feeling “gimmicky” instead of pushing boundaries.

That said, I felt the potential. With modern technology, we should be able to have new, mind-blowing experiences.

But this was just not it for me.

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MTL to MIA

Through the Echoes, intended to be a mobile showcase, moves to Miami in September… And it seems it won’t be missed here in Montreal.

I’m not the only one who found the show to be lackluster. According to a Montreal Gazette article published Aug. 9, the show has seen “sluggish sales”, to the point that Lune Rouge CEO Stéphane Mongeau said they have already made extensive changes to the show since it opened June 1 in Montreal.

Some of the changes include more seating, modifications to the music and the addition of augmented-reality headsets. Personally, I’m not so sure these switches will help much because for me, it wasn’t the lack of these elements that spoiled the show for me… It was the show itself.

The article does mention that the thematic DJ nights that take place at the pyramid every Friday and Saturday night have been a big hit. That’s actually an experience I’d love to check out — some good house music, a quirky setting, and an otherworldly feel.

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PY1 –  the two pyramids are quite a nice pop of colour against a dark skyline!