Mystere

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Mystere is Cirque Du Soleil's seventh show, and first "resident" (non-touring) production. On Christmas Day, 1993, it opened at the then-new Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The viewpoint characters are two babies (played by adults) -- one male, one female—each of whom has a "lovey". For him, it is a red ball almost as big as he; for her, it is a toy snail on wheels and a string. Not long after the show begins, each loses their lovey, and off they go into the wide, strange world to find them again. The acrobatic acts that follow represent its wonders: noble angels, silly viruses, whimsical birds, etc. The pompous emcee Moha-Samedi more or less keeps order amongst the creatures, but he may meet his match with Brian Le Petit, who isn't one of them and has an appetite for mischief all his own...

While Treasure Island's then-owner Steve Wynn was shocked and unsure of the show's prospects when it was first previewed to him, so different was it from traditional Las Vegas entertainment of the time, it would find a large, appreciative audience. Time magazine's theater critic declared it one of the best shows of 1994. Its popularity and acclaim set the stage for the company's even more spectacular "O" at Wynn's Bellagio in 1998, and another five shows after that for Vegas. Mystere still endures as the "purest" of the Vegas Cirque shows—it's the closest analogue to their tours—and its current contract with the hotel isn't set to expire until 2016.

In Knocked Up, this is the show the guys check out on their trip to Vegas. It has also been credited as an inspiration for the video game NiGHTS Into Dreams.

As yet, this show hasn't been filmed, due to its host casino wanting to protect its investment. Several acts, characters, and performers did appear in the 2000 IMAX short Journey of Man and the 2003 Variety Show / Widget Series Solstrom. The 2007 documentary The Mystery of Mystere, available via Cirque's online boutique and show gift shops, includes a goodly deal of show footage, albeit with some spoilers for the comedy acts.

Tropes used in Mystere include:
  • Alice Allusion: The unofficial name of the toy snail is Alice. Officially it is called Escargot.
  • All There in the Manual: The show's a large metaphor for the history of the universe and life in it (the creators even took inspiration from chaos theory), but it's easy to miss that theme without a look at the program or documentary.
  • Animal Motifs: It's a Franco Dragone-directed show, so there is bird imagery, starting with the Red Bird and the Birds of Prey. The bright-yellow clad handbalancer/dancer has been referred to by a variety of different names, but one of them is "The Yellow Bird", and the bungee performers are another variety of bird in-story. And Moha-Samedi's ventriloquist dummy is a bizarre bird.
  • Archangel Gabriel: A loose take. The group commonly referred to as Les Laquais ("the servants"; they're dressed like footmen) was originally known as the Archangels. Naturally, the older programs note that "the finest of the Archangels" is named Gabriel; he's the character who performs the aerial cube act.
  • Audience Participation: Big time from the preshow onwards.
  • Bad Samaritan: Part of the preshow is based on a gentler, merely mischievous version of this, as Brian offers to lead just-arriving audience members to their seats.
  • Balloonacy: The female baby is lifted to the skies by a bouquet of red balloons during the transition to the high bar act.
  • Bare Your Midriff: La Belle and the Black Widow, dancers who are thematic opposites of each other, have costumes that do this. A few members of the female ensemble show up in this state at some point as well.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Brian Le Petit.
  • Book Ends: The taiko drums, which are so important to the show that they are regarded as an act in and of themselves.
  • But Thou Must!: The audience participation during the show comes down to this—agree to do something, and you've agreed to do everything else that follows.
  • Chainsaw Good: Oh, how this is played with... Brian brings one out to get the man out of the crate; when Moha-Samedi pushes him away, the clown quickly realizes he can shoo the emcee away via the threat of a Groin Attack. And then the power runs down...
  • Cool Old Guy: Brian Le Petit, both within the show and in Real Life—his performer, Brian Dewhurst, was born in 1932.
  • Crack Fic: Mystere Du Le Kooza. Written as a haunted house type fanfic, while simultaneously being someone's ship fantasy too. Try not to think too hard about the title of the fic, either.
  • Crazy Prepared / Hidden Supplies: Again, Brian, who seems to have a prank/gag for every occasion on his person.
  • Cut Song: Due to the 1995-96 Retool, three songs had to be cut ("Rumeurs", "Caravena", and "Birimbau"). Since they all appeared on the 1994 soundtrack album, it was another reason that the live album was recorded in '96 and the original eventually went out of print. Oddly, "Birimbau" was the song chosen to represent this show on the company's 25th anniversary Greatest Hits Album, as well as in the Delirium concert tour. In late 2010, most of "High Bar" was cut and replaced with a new, more upbeat number.
  • The Danza: Brian Le Petit (Dewhurst) and Bebe Francois (Dupuis).
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Since mystere is just the French word for mystery, the title of the documentary would be The Mystery of Mystery if it were all in English!
  • Disappearing Box: Brian picks a man out from the audience for this trick.
  • Distaff Counterpart: If Bebe Francois's performer is absent, his act/plot thread with the ball can be played out by the female baby, Bebebe, instead. In this version, Moha-Samedi gives her the toy snail to compensate for the loss of the ball, but she loses that too...
  • Dramatic Thunder: Introduces, and punctuates the feats in, the hand-to-hand act.
  • Drum Roll, Please: Once Brian has locked the man in the box, this kicks in as he works his "magic" and reveals what he's taken out of the box.
  • Einstein Hair: Brian Le Petit.
  • Hair Decorations: Bebebe has a pink bow or two in her hair, which helps make the performer appear more childlike.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The costumes for the "birds" in the bungee act are almost literally dripping with sequins.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The climax of the aerial cube act has the performer spin the huge frame around and around him, and then balance a corner of it—still spinning—on the palm of his hand.
  • Everythings Funkier With Disco / The Jimmy Hart Version: The latter take on "Stayin' Alive" is brought in thanks to the former.
  • Fail O'Suckyname via Bilingual Bonus: Intentionally evoked—Brian Dewhurst took on the clown act from its originator Wayne Hronek and chose "Le Petit" as his stage surname as a callback to Hronek's "Benny Le Grand". That is to say, "Benny the Great" was succeeded by "Brian the Small". Now counts as Hilarious in Hindsight, as he's held the role longer than his predecessor.
  • The Ferry Man: The Spark, a motivational book about Cirque's various creative processes, points out that Brian serves as this in the preshow: In playing at leading people to their seats, he's also leading the audience away from Real Life and towards the Magic Land.
  • Flipping the Bird: Via the hands of Brian Le Petit.
  • Foil
    • La Belle/The Black Widow (Light and dark aspects of femininity and beauty)
    • Moha-Samedi/Brian Le Petit (Order Versus Chaos)
    • Les Laquais/The Spermatoes and Spermatites (Ditto, but more benignly so; the Korean plank/trampoline/fast track act depicts this)
    • The Birds of Prey/The Green Lizards (Predator and prey)
    • The Red and Yellow Birds/The Birds of Prey (Peaceful versus aggressive)
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Real Life example—the "champagne" is actually sparkling cider.
  • Get Out!: Moha-Samedi to Brian, near the end. And to the audience when it objects!
  • Groin Attack: Threatened, via chainsaw, by Brian to Moha-Samedi.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Moha-Samedi versus Brian Le Petit, especially as the latter makes his final stand. He even calls on reinforcements, namely the audience.
  • Happy Ending: For just about everybody...
  • Herald: La Vache a Lait, whose blowing of a horn heralds the opening and closing of the show. His true herald role comes in how he figures into the babies losing their loveys and starting their journey—he encourages Bebe Francois to throw the ball his way and it falls into a deep gap between them...
  • Insult Backfire: After it was first presented to him, Steve Wynn was upset with writer-director Franco Dragone for giving him "a German opera". Dragone took that as a compliment, since he was shooting for a grand, ambitious show (as opposed to the then-typical "Vegas show"). This may also count as Hilarious in Hindsight, given how grand and sweeping "O" would turn out to be.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Wynn obviously thought this way—when it did, he apologized.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Moha-Samedi—pompous, yes. But a lot of it's just pride for all the wonders he gets to emcee, when you think about it. He's friendly with the other characters too, with the understandable exception of Brian (who won't stop picking on him).
  • Living Toys: Escargot, at the end.
  • Long List: During the "rules of the theater" segment, Moha-Samedi starts to rattle off one with regards to items that must be turned off during the show (cell phones, pagers, microwaves, toaster ovens, Facebook, etc.) and is shushed by his puppet.
  • Long Runners: If it closes in 2016, it will have enjoyed a 23-year run. It's already enjoying the longest nonstop run for a Cirque show to date.
  • Magical Land: An unusual example in that the character who has newly arrived in it (Brian) isn't the protagonist.
  • Mind Screw: The lack of a fourth wall is throroughly played with, strange creatures (including a Satan analogue) come and go through the transitions with no major part to play...luckily you don't need to understand it all to enjoy it.
  • The Narrator: According to the website, "Moha-Samedi is the narrator no one listens to." He periodically addresses the audience with quite the know-it-all attitude, but since it's all in Simlish...
  • Nice Hat: Moha-Samedi's pink bowler.
  • No Fourth Wall: This concept is key to how the show unfolds.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Bebe Francois combines this trope with the traditional Cirque protagonist (the performer created the character before joining Cirque's 1992 tour Fascination); Brian Le Petit is a straightforward example. Brian and Moha-Samedi's adversarial relationship has roots in the traditional clown archetypes of the wise guy "auguste" and the straight man "whiteface"; indeed, Moha-Samedi's base makeup is white.
  • Offscreen Crash: When the careening golf cart (yeah, It Makes Just As Much Sense in Context) practically chases Moha-Samedi offstage, we hear screeching brakes and a thud. All harmless Slapstick!
  • Once Upon a Time: Used in the program for the section setting up the story of the babies.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Due to one of the protagonists (Bebe Francois) serving as a clown act, aside from the preshow / Opening Ballet and a blackout skit Brian Le Petit only gets one setpiece within the show in comparison to most Cirque clowns getting at least two and the preshow. But heavens, he makes it count.
  • Opening Ballet: Known as "Ouverture-Ramsani" on the soundtrack.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Moha-Samedi versus Brian Le Petit is a comic version of this. Order wins.
  • Original Cast Precedent: Broken in the case of the Red Bird. For years the role was only played by male performers, but the artistic directors decided to break the precedent with Natasha Hallett in 1999 because they thought she fit the character's personality better. This required a new costume design since the male Red Bird is a Walking Shirtless Scene, but it worked out well. The part can now be filled by performers of either gender.
  • Real Life Relative: Over 2000-2005, the battle between Brian Le Petit and Moha-Samedi was played out by a father-son team (Brian and Nicky Dewhurst; the latter subsequently moved to Zumanity as part of that show's extensive Retool).
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Disappearing Box bit. It's a trick that allows Brian to woo the man's date.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted with the friendly Green Lizards (dancers).
  • Retool: Over 1995-96 three acts were dropped (manipulation, acrobatics on a net, and flying trapeze) and replaced with the now-familiar aerial cube and high bar segments. Much of the score was replaced and revamped by a different composer. A third baby (a male whose lovey was a doll) and a prince were among characters dropped. The show originally had a darker tone as well; the retool lightened that.
  • Rule of Three: Brian attempts to take over the show by putting words into the puppet's mouth: "You can smoke now if you want to! Take flash photography! Take your clothes off!"
  • Satan: A minor part—the stiltwalker that appears after the dance to "Gambade" is a demon named Mephisto who serves as an analogue to this (along with his Distaff Counterpart Venus, who appears with him in the closing sequence). In the Journey of Man short, he fills the Satan role outright when The Everyman hero decides to make a Deal with the Devil.
  • Screwy Squirrel: Brian Le Petit is an unstoppable prankster, and heaven forbid you provoke him. When he's being chased up a ladder by an unseen stagehand in the blackout skit, he stops him by kicking it over, and later he ends an offstage fight with the Red Bird by shooting it. It isn't fatal. In the end, as the business with the crate goes increasingly wrong, his attempts to save his own skin become increasingly outrageous ( i.e., getting the chainsaw).
  • Security Blanket: The babies' toys.
  • Set Switch Song: "Egypte", "Dome", and "Gambade".
  • Sexophone: Spoofed as Brian Le Petit approaches the man in the box's date.
  • Silence Is Golden: There's very little dialogue after the opening announcements. It has been said that part of this show's (and Cirque in general's) success in Las Vegas lies in its appeal to international tourists who are not fluent in English.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Most of the TV/online ads and clips don't include Brian Le Petit; justified in that it avoids spoilers.
  • Slapstick: Besides the Offscreen Crash, the intro to the Korean plank/trampoline/fast track segment has the Red Bird engaging in this with one of the Spermatoes.
  • Speaking Simlish: Most of the cast. Brian speaks only in English, Bebe Francois knows a little bit of English ( "papa" or "mama") and Moha-Samedi is fluent in both "Cirquish" and English. During the opening announcements, he starts in Simlish until his puppet warns him—in English—that the audience doesn't understand him.
  • Splash of Color: Inverted with Brian's black-and-white suit and sneakers, the only costume that has no color in it, to better emphasize that he's an intruder in the story. Near the end, he gives himself a splash of color by donning a red clown nose.
  • Two-Faced: The creatures who perform the Chinese poles act, the "Double Faces", have faces on the front and back of their heads. The performers wear masks on the back of their heads to achieve this effect; the twist is, it's usually the masked side presented to the audience, and all the masks look alike. Combined with the choreography (particularly in the "Egypte" intro), it's surreal.
  • The Vamp: The Black Widow, who desires to corrupt Gabriel.
  • Ventriloquism: Moha-Samedi.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Even more than usual for a Cirque show. Via Acting for Two, most of the male ensemble qualifies as this at some point; the aerial cube performer and hand to hand duo are this as well. But the singular Red Bird, when played by a man, is the most obvious example, so much so that when Brian encounters him and proceeds to mock his dancing, he opens his own shirt for a moment to complete the spoof.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Or, what happened to Brian Le Petit -- shouldn't he be taking his bows with everyone else? The explanation is he can't -- he isn't "part of the show" and he was kicked out!
  • X Meets Y: The Time critic tried to sum up the show with the phrase "Siegfried Roy Webber"—that is to say, Siegfried and Roy meet Andrew Lloyd Webber. This does sum up the show's Spectacle well enough for readers of The Nineties, but it became beloved for aiming for more than that.