If you did not get enough time this summer seeing the Olympic gymnasts in Brazil perform, then treat yourself to an offering from Cirque du
Soleil. On August 13, 2016, this reviewer saw Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities in Cirque’s fully air-conditioned Grand Chapiteau tent set up in Tysons, Virginia. Having already seen and reviewed for Scene4 Magazine three of the current twenty Cirque offerings—O, Ka, and Totem,
did not diminish the cathartic pleasure of drinking in the color, grace, and power of the awe-inspiring spectacle of the two-and-one-half-hour
Kurios. This is a show
that makes you believe that you too could fly through the air and be caught before falling.
While there is a formula for Cirque shows—distinct characters who appear throughout the show; lively music that has a folk element or
period influence like the Roaring Twenties; the best acrobats, gymnasts, circus show people; actors who interact with the audience; dramatic lighting; some kind of loose
storyline or theme; etc.—the ingredients for making a successful show always present in a stimulating way that is fresh and makes the audience want more.
The storyline for Kurios concerns an inventor who is turning his Victorian timeframe on its head. We see a bicyclist pedaling in
air first upright and later upside down. We are invited into the belly of Mr. Microcosmos where his alter ego Mini Lili lives in her
fully furnished Victorian parlor. We see projections of finger puppets on a big screen while simultaneously we watch the
puppeteer Nico Baixas making his fingers work to portray, for example, a break-dancer and skateboarder. We also see
something that looks like a hologram but turns out to be another set of performers working from the ceiling of the tent in an exact
mirror image of a chair-building balancing act.
Among my favorite acts were the contortionists working on top of a mechanical hand. These Asian performers bend their bodies
in ways that look like an exotic plant with many tendrils. The costuming is exceptionally eye-catching with body suits that
have subtle ruffles and the front of the body suit sports with nonconforming stripes and the back is a regularly spaced set of blue polka dots on an orange background.
Remarkably, the athletes—who tumble and jump, who stack chairs to balance on, who juggle, who climb ropes and swing
from them—are accomplished actors. The creative team headed by Cirque founder Guy LaLiberté and Creative Guide Jean
-François Bouchard boast 17 creators, including the Emmy award-winning writer and director Michel LaPrise. This show
includes 116 tour members from 22 different countries and some of them have been touring with Cirque for more than 20 years. Kurios counts 426 props which is the most for any production in
the history of Cirque du Soleil. Before heading off to the show, an audience member might consider exploring the extensive
details about the characters and acts that are published without cost to the viewer on the Cirque website. The website also
provides several minutes of the discreet songs threaded through the show. The graphically beautiful programs are expensive. The
show runs in Tysons, Virginia, through September 18.