Ladies and gentlemen, the Cirque has come to town! And you won’t want to miss it because it’s amazing!
Cirque du Soleil returns to Chicago after four years with its newest production KURIOS CABINET OF CURIOSITIES.
Get ready to be astonished by death defying feats and visual eye teasers. KURIOS is anchored in a steampunk aesthetic. The genre mixes science fiction and fantasy with influences from 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Costume Designer Phillippe Guillotel opens up the show like he is opening up our imaginations. He introduces a parade of quirky characters. A man is clad in oversized accordion waders. As he squats down or bends slightly, the folding and unfolding of his body is delightfully bizarre. Another guy has this gigantic stomach that looks like a deep sea diving bell. And his belly opens to reveal a sophisticated Mini Lili (played by Antanina Satsura who is one-meter tall and weighs 18 kg) sipping tea. The pageantry captivates immediately and the show hasn’t really started yet.
Writer and director Michel Laprise creates this cerebral tingling experience. His parade of mechanical-human misfits, called The Kurios, loom on the outskirts. They, like the audience, gawk at the quirky bits that turn into marveling stunts. A young lady casually bikes out on stage. And then suddenly she is biking in the air…upside down effortlessly. The acts have an old-fashioned circus familiarity but then someone twists, jumps, or plummets and it’s all new and mind-boggling.
A metal box rolls onstage and hinges open to reveal the Russian Cradle Duo. He is a strongman. She looks like a porcelain doll. And from his second story perch, he tosses her up and catches her like she is a toy. While in the air, she does a variety of somersaults. Their timing is a precision stunner. They were amazing!
Later, a giant metal hand, moving fingers and all, glides out with three contortionists on it. The press kit indicates four but I swear on opening night there were only three. It’s hard to know for sure because their whole act is building the illusion of oneness. Their aquatic-style leotard gives them a fluid sea serpent look. They bend limbs and connect to each other in incomprehensible ways. They are like a human slinky. They were amazing!
Are you getting a theme here? It’s hard to say which act I liked best because I so thoroughly enjoyed my entire experience. In the Upside Down World act, an ordinary dinner of circus folk turns into a chair piling aerial feat. And it’s not enough that one guy is precariously situated on top of a chair tower. The whole thing is mirrored from the top of the big top. Another set of circus folk are dining upside down suspended from the tent ceiling. And another guy stacks chairs to meet the floor guy in the middle to high five him. Sorry, but it’s true… they were amazing!
I get breathless and exhausted remembering this entire spectacle. In the Rola Bola, the performer pivots on top of moving, stacked spheres while dramatically swinging above the stage. In Acro Net, a trampoline style net and performers in fin and gill attire create this whimsical illusion of fish in the sea. In Aerial Straps, two very muscular gents are dynamic flying harmoniously in a magical air dance. In Banquine, the striped suited ensemble in matching red caps are a tremendous show of sheer physicality as they throw and catch each other on top of shoulders. And sometimes the guy is on top of another guy on top another guy on top another guy. I loved this very human moment when a guy removed his hat right before he acquired a stack of his peers on top of his shoulders. He was…they all were… amazing!
In between the circus acts, there were bits of pure vaudeville often led by Facundo Gimenez. Although Gimenez and the others are very talented, these shticks served more as a respite from this adrenaline-charged, wild ride. Mr. Laprise, thank you! I absolutely LOVED this show. In a word, it was AMAZING!
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes includes intermission
In the United Center parking lot, 1901 W. Madison
Written and directed by Michel Laprise
Thru September 20th
Tickets are available for purchase by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or calling 1-877-9 CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783). Tickets range from $35 – $145.
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