Elizabith Costey ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Audiences enter the signature blue and yellow big top and immediately find themselves immersed in a strange, new world. The stage hosts a barrage of sights and sounds. Clowns and actors race around the stage and through the audience. Illuminated mechanisms whirl and clink. The show hasn’t even begun and the crowd is enrapt.
Just like all Cirque Du Soleil performances, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities was created to astound audiences with unbelievable acrobatic and circus acts, unparalleled creativity, and theatrical storytelling. Written and directed by Michel Laprise, Kurios takes its audience to a magical world where anything is possible. Set in the late 19th century, the cirque opens on a busy scene in a scientist’s lab. Machines glow and whirl, clinking and clattering as the scientist, also known as the Seeker, sits anxiously in a giant chair center stage. Suddenly everything goes still. Time has frozen.
The audience follows the seeker into a curious world of dreams made real. In this cabinet of curiosity, the lines between reality and impossibility are virtually nonexistent. One by one strange and intriguing characters enter the stage- a man with trousers like the folds of an accordion, a lovely woman with a spiraling hoop skirt, and a cheerful man with a bulbous metal stomach in which lives a very tiny lady. Curiouser and curiouser. The quirky cast of characters welcomes the seeker and invites him to explore their strange world. Intrigued, he accepts as the first acrobatic act takes the stage.
A giant box is moved onto center stage. Once secured, it opens, revealing a pair of acrobats in beautiful blue and red attire. The male acrobat climbs to the top of a podium and prepares himself. The woman follows suit and takes her partner’s hands. The man lifts his partner into the air and then swings her low between his legs. The pair let go of each other, allowing the woman to rotate and flip midair, before her partner catches her just in time. Again and again the woman flips through the air, her partner reliably swinging and catching her as if she weighed no more than a 10lb kettlebell. He catches her wrists, then her ankle. He lifts and balances her high over his head. It is an incredible act.
The next act is slightly calmer, allowing the audience to catch their breath. An aerialist descends from the ceiling in what would traditionally be an aerial hoop performance. Of course, there is nothing traditional about Cirque du Soleil. Rather than a hoop, the aerialist performs on a bicycle. She weaves in and out of the metal bars, flipping and sliding nimbly around the bicycle. At one point she hangs by her flexed feet, and waves to the rotund, metal man below her. In the next moment she smiles at the audience as she rides her bike upside down in circles around the stage.
Kurios displays act after act of amazing talent. A clown treats the audience to “The show you never saw”- an invisible circus. A gentleman in a tailcoat climbs a tower of chairs, stacking them higher and higher until he reaches the ceiling. Three talented contortionists bend and twist into impressive balances atop a giant mechanic hand. A pilot performs handstands and balances on a swinging plane high above the stage. From one astounding act to another, Kurios leaves its audience awestruck. And to think, that was only the first half of the show.
Post intermission, the stage returns to life as the musicians sing and dance across the stage, calling the audience back to their seats. A flexible net is stretched taut across the stage over the performers’ heads. Men and women enter the stage dressed as clouds and fish. Several more performers enter dressed in yellow rain coats and hats. They clamber atop the net, and the audience realizes what’s about to happen. It’s not a net; it’s a trampoline. The yellow clad performers rip off their raincoats revealing colorful, gilled costumes. They fly through the air, rotating and flipping with expert control. The trampolinists perform wild tumbling passes, completing triple back tucks, double fulls, and much more.
While the audience is still reeling from the trampolinists’ act, the clown returns to the stage. He distracts the crowd while the trampoline net is removed and the next act, a pair of aerialist, prepares. Following the aerialists is a yo-yo act, a beautiful and humorous hand puppet show, and finally a large group acrobatics performance. The second half of the show proves to be even curiouser that the first half.
Full of wonder, fun, and ingenuity, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosity is one of Cirque du Soleil’s best. Everything from the lighting and set design to the costuming and music is built to awe. Not to mention, the uncanny skill and precision of each performer. Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosity is delightfully strange and breathtaking- a ‘must see’.