Sublime Simplicity & Imagination Soar in Cirque du Soleil’s Latest Show
The Entertainment Quarter, Sydney, Wednesday October 1st
reviewed by Heather Clements
How does the Cirque du Soleil juggernaut keep doing it? KURIOS proves that the creatives behind the Cirque empire are still on fire and able to create shows that transform cynical, grown adults into wide-eyed, mesmerised children.
One of their latest and most highly praised productions KURIOS opened in Sydney’s Moore Park Entertainment Quarter this week where is will be based for the remainder of the year before heading off to travel to seasons in four other Australian cities over the next year. Literally hundreds of thousands of people will have the privilege of seeing this incredibly nostalgic and whimsical show that draws on old-school, travelling side show magic and gimmicks and , of course, inspiring displays of physical strength and agility.
The shows starts before you even enter the famous Big Top for KURIOS, as several of the characters climb and bounce on the outside of the tent while the crowd arrives, getting everybody in the mood early.
In true Cirque du Soleil style, the atmosphere is set from the start with the staging, styling, costuming and music that all combine to heighten the narrative. In this case, the audience is transported to Victorain era Europe where a travelling circus show arrives by train to its latest destination. As expected from Cirque productions, the production quality of KURIOS is rich and of the highest quality in all aspects. However, what makes this show unique is its use of simple, timeless techniques to tell its story. For instance, the opening scene has the live musicians waking through the audience holding up back-lit cut outs representing a train and its carriages heading to the next city where it will perform. In this modern era of digital technology overload, it was refreshing to see a show of this calibre pared back to such authentic and charming detail.
Written and directed by Michel Laprise, KURIOS is a tale in which time seems to come to a complete stop and anything becomes possible in this fantasy world. Appropriately sub-titled a Cabinet of Curiosities, the characters in KURIOS are reminiscent of the oddities used as attractions in the sideshows of years gone by. ‘Cabinets of curiosities’ are the precursors of museums, also known as ‘cabinet of wonder’ in the Renaissance Europe. Pre-Science, aristocrats and the wealthy formed collections of historical relics, works of art or mysterious travel souvenirs or artefacts. In this story The Seeker, or curator of the collection, is convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world where his craziest ideas and the grandest dreams can happen ⏤ limited only by your imagination.
The costuming is elaborate and clever, especially as displayed on Nico the Accordion Man, Klara’s signal receiving hoop skirt, the human-like robots, and Mr Microcosmos who literally houses the tiny Mini Lil character representing his subconscious. Mini Lil is played by Rima Hadchiti who is one of the ten smallest people in the world standing just is 3.3 feet tall! All the costumes have a vintage feel and reflect the early days of mechanical and electrical science experimentation and technology.
But the main drawcard to a Cirque show are the acrobatics and tricks, and KURIOS delivered all the timeless classics the audience pays to see. Once the train had pulled into the station and the cast of eccentrics were introduced and the scene had been set, the acts began. First up was the aerial cyclist followed by a quaint invisible circus routine that got the audience’s imagination engaged, then the amazing sea-creature contortionists, always mind-blowing Rola Bola balancer on cylinders and planks stacked high, and a beautifully choreographed trampolining routine on the suspended Acro net. The familiar chair stacking and balancing trick was taken to a new level in KURIOS with the original idea of the dinner party being replicated in the Upside Down World where the two chair stacks eventually meet mid air.
There was also a delightful comic act with the mime character trying to seduce an audience member by becoming different animals, plus a dazzling display of yo-yo tricks, as well as the Siamese twins flying through the air with perfect timing and strength using the aerial straps. Another charmingly simple act in the show was the Theatre of Hands where only fingers and hands were used as characters to tell a story with simple props and projected overhead on a hot air balloon. Finally, the show ended with a classic Banquine act and one of the best display of 13 acrobats performing a spectacular sequence of tumbling, tossing, catching, balancing and human pyramids.
The cast of 47 artists are unrivalled world-class gymnasts, acrobats, contortionists, hand-puppeteers, yo-yo wizards, clowns, actors and musicians. However, the enchanting element of KURIOS was its ability to rely purely on the talent of the cast with minimal technical interference. The overall show was enhanced further by an original score played by live musicians and vocalists throughout, reinforcing the authenticity of the characters and story.
KURIOS earned much applause and many “ooh aahs” from the eager opening night crowd. While there is nothing particularly ground breaking in this new show, its magic lies in its ability to appreciate the pure simplicity of true physical talent and opens the power of the audience’s imagination. KURIOS is enchanting, delightful, captivating and perfectly magical for all ages. You won’t be disappointed with the story telling or defying feats. See it if you can.
KURIOS – CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
SYDNEY ⏤ Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
From Wednesday 2 October 2019
BRISBANE ⏤ Northshore Hamilton, Brisbane
From Friday 10 January 2020
MELBOURNE ⏤ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
From Thursday 12 March 2020
ADELAIDE ⏤ Under the Big Top at Adelaide Showground
From 29 May 2020
From 16 July 2020
All Bookings: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or call 1800 036 685