Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cirque du Soleil at the United Center through Sept 20

We had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil's new show Kurios at the United Center last week, and it was really wonderful.  It may be the best Cirque show I've seen.  (and I've seen 10 or 11 Cirque shows over the last 15 years so I am speaking with a certain amount of expertise.)

Based on the idea of a nineteenth century curio cabinet (also known as a Cabinet of Wonder), the show transports the audience to a fantastical world where time seems to stop and just about anything can happen. The curio cabinet is stocked with exotic and interesting performers who can do all sorts of things that will amaze, astound, and entertain the audience.

Mr. Microcosmos and his amazing suit.  Here, one of the tiniest performers
(Ms Lil) is inhabiting the world inside his costume.  Photo by Martin Girard
As with just about every Cirque show, the tent, costumes, and makeup are all great.  And the individual circus performers were all marvelous. This show has sort of a steampunky feel, and you say that in the costumes, and some of the gadgets, gizmos, and costumes that the performers use.  There are more props in this show than in any other Cirque du Soleil show, and some of them are wonderful.  I'm  thinking specifically of two costumes, an accordion costume  that seems to get longer and grow as need be, and an amazing suit that contains worlds within it.

Poetry, virtuosity, and simplicity in the
Theatre of Hands act.
One of my favorite acts in the show is a hand puppet act.  Using just their hands and a video camera/projector (projecting onto a hot air balloon), the performers create the illusion of larger performers doing skateboard and hip hop dance tricks that look nearly impossible and very lifelike.  They then move their setup into the audience, playing and improvising with a couple of audience members in a way that was just amazing.  Part of why I loved this so much is that it was something so small and delicate that they figured out a way to play to the thousand people in the tent, and part of it was just their incredible virtuosity in performance. (And the fact that it wasn't a typical circus act also helped.)

Traditional circus acts performed with breath-taking virtuosity were also in abundance, including some amazing contortionists, a trapeze trampoline act that allowed the jumper to hurtle 40 feet in the air on each jump, and a stunning duo bungee straps act performed by two men filled with equal amounts of strength and grace.  The clowns of the show were also quite good, and brought a good amount of surprise and laughter to the two pieces, including an invisible circus where the props come to life, and a seduction piece where the performer brings someone on to the stage to seduce them, but keeps on getting distracted.

There was also a rola bola act, an amazing yo-yo performer, and a lot of other jaw-dropping stuff.

The show moves to California in October, so you've got a few more weeks to see the show in Chicago before it must close.  Don't miss it!

Find out more about the show:

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