Much like the Industrial revolution vastly improved the standard of living for the general population, Canadian based Cirque du Soleil and their never resting team of creative geniuses are constantly raising the bar in the medium of live theatrical entertainment. Their latest offering, ‘Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities’ written and directed by Michael Laprise, kicked off its opening night splashing its way into our hearts and minds at the colossal, standing room only ‘circus tent’ on New York’s Randall’s Island.
The show is a mind bending, time twisting journey where reality as we know it screeches to a halt – transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where anything can happen. Audience members marveled at a jaw dropping array of vignettes that ranged from epic, to extremely intimate. Stand out acts featured a 62 foot long train which extends the entire length of the stage, an aerial bicyclist, a bevy of strikingly beautiful contortionists perched atop a gigantic mechanical hand, an upside down dinner party that would make Mary Poppins and Bert blush, two imponderably masculine conjoined twin aerialists, and an enormous helium ballon which doubles as a projection screen to showcase the tiniest of ‘live-streamed’ hand puppets.
The set design of ‘Kurios’ puts the spectator in a well-defined place: the curio cabinet of a Seeker filled with unusual objects collected on his travels. Set in what could be called a retro-future, the scenic environment makes several references to the beginning of the industrial revolution during the 19th Century without being tied to that period. “It’s like Jules Verne meets Thomas Edison in an alternate reality, out of time.” explains Set Designer Stéphane Roy.
In this parallel reality, it is the steam engine and not the internal combustion engine that reigns supreme. The set evokes the start of the industrialization era, but as if science and technology had evolved differently and progress had taken on a more human dimension.
The performance space is dominated by two structures called “cabinets;” one explores the topic of sound and the other, the topic of electricity. Built by the Seeker using scraps and pieces collected over time, the two large towers also serve as “wave sensors” made from miscellaneous components such as gramophones, old typewriters, electrical bulbs and turbines.
‘Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities’ is quite simply one of the most lavish, spectacular visual feasts you’ll enjoy this year. Cirque du Soleil has once again merged their signature musical style with a striking visual concept and the results are pure gold. Upon the shows conclusion, my head still spinning… I had to chuckle at the large sign that greeted my pal Cassandra Seidenfeld and I as we exited the circus tent. ‘Brace yourself, you are now, re-entering reality.’ We laughed, immediately turned around and ran back inside.
The creative team includes; Chantal Tremblay – Director of Creation, Stéphane Roy – Set and Props Designer, Philippe Guillotel – Costume Designer, Raphaël Beau/Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard – Composers and Musical Directors, Yaman Okur/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/Susan Gaudreau – Choreographers, Ben Potvin/Andrea Ziegler – Acrobatic Choreographers, Jacques Boucher/Jean-Michel Caron – Sound Designers, Martin Labrecque – Lighting Designer, Rob Bollinger – Acrobatic Performance Designer, Germain Guillemot – Acrobatic Performance Designer, Boris Verkhovsky – Acrobatic Performance Designer, Danny Zen – Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer, Eleni Uranis – Makeup Designer
Tickets: cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or calling 1-877-9 CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783)