Review By Megan Mitchell
The spectacle of Kurios started from the moment I walked through the gates. There was a sense of enchantment and anticipation in the air; performers in costume roaming about, a gorgeous entrance archway and hundreds of excited patrons. This is the 36th year of Cirque du Soleil, and they show no sign of growing complacent in their push for creativity, inspiration and entertainment. This show embodies such detail and liveliness from the get-go it was impossible not to get caught up in the childish thrill of the circus.
Kurios is a tightly woven tapestry of steampunk world-building, otherworldly characters and of course, incredible feats of human exertion.
You can really appreciate what a well-oiled machine the entire production is - it is incredibly collaborative between the performers and crew, from rigging up various high-flying apparatus, to the utterly flawless audio cues, to the constantly adapting spot-light operators. Everybody is confident and practiced in their role, allowing the audience to settle in and simply marvel at the death-defying feats being performed; these are professional artists performing at the peak of their capabilities.
The set up inside the big top was a feast for the senses before the show even properly commenced - the stage design was so intricate and impressive I would have happily spent the time exploring that alone. Set pieces that played with levels, organic elements melded with machinery and proper old-fashioned clutter that you never tire of. Equally, the costumes were phenomenal - in particular the clowns who pottered about on stage during the transitions. The costumes played with texture, shape and size without restriction, but always served the character and the act, never distracting from it.
There were performers roving the audience pre-show, and general mischief happening on stage amongst the clowns. Accompanying the show for its entirety was a versatile band, made up of a few instruments and talented, kooky singer wearing a gramophone as a hat. I thoroughly enjoyed the music composition and performance; somehow it managed to combine French, circus and steampunk themes into a score that complemented the action perfectly, but could also stand alone when required.
The design and pacing of the show was (to use more machinery metaphors) continuously pumping. The transitional ‘bits’ and explorations between acts were entertaining in their own right, and never felt like filler. Consequently, the audience could rest, but never lose interest, and when interval was announced I genuinely thought there had been a mistake as the act had flown by so quickly. The energy, connection to the audience and precision of the show was a marvel unto itself.
The performers themselves were, of course, of a very high standard across the board. One of the highlights for me was the trampoline act at the beginning of the second half; the fearless performers jumped so high you thought that with one misstep they could easily fly through the roof, and the story of fisherman/fish monsters was visually brilliant. I really found myself in awe here of the trust and teamwork between performers in this act; the others flawlessly controlled the height of the main performer’s bounce, allowing them to stop instantly, or propel them to great heights.
Another highlight was one of the clowning acts, the only real ‘audience participation’ segment. A grown man impersonating a cat had the crowd in stitches, really demonstrating the beauty and skill behind clowning. The audience was anything from young children to great-grandparents, and he was able to capture their attention and make them laugh without even using words.
The ‘invisible circus’ was an amusing segment (a clever way to include animals in the show without physically having them there), and I can confidently say that the yo-yo performer was the most talented yo-yo-er I have ever seen in my life.
Kurios will appeal to everyone; it is crowd-pleasing, but in an joyful way, not a tame way. It literally encourages curiosity, from the audience in the performers and vice versa. Everyone involved in the production is highly skilled and seems to thoroughly enjoy what they do, encouraging genuine ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ from the audience. The thrill of live performance is never as apparent as at the circus, where everything seems new and exciting. If you have children or simply want to recapture that sense of childish wonder, I highly recommend you get a ticket. It will not disappoint.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.