Every year, Cirque du Soleil takes over the gorgeous setting of The Royal Albert Hall in London's Kensington with one of its spectacular shows, and one of my Christmas gifts to Hubby Dearest was tickets to this year's show: Kooza.
Having been to three Cirque shows in the past, I thought I knew what to expect: a modern take on traditional circus routines, set within a magical scenario invented by the Cirque team, delivered in a unique way that spectators the world over come to marvel at. Kooza delivers this magical formula, but there is with a twist: it's almost as if the creators of this show wanted to strip out all the sophistication and production that regulars like me have become used to, and go back to the basics of circus craft. It might not work for all, but I for one absolutely loved it.
It all starts with the story of a character, Innocent, who finds a magical box (the Kooza of the title), where from a mysterious and enchanting world springs out, complete with a victorian music kiosk and quirky inhabitants who are all circus artists: jugglers, trapeze artists, unicycles, tightrope walkers. And some quite interesting clowns (more on these at the end...)
My favourites? The trapeze act was simply fabulous, graceful, sexy and fierce all in one, with an artist who literally seemed to fly over the audience at times, flipping and somersaulting around her trapeze, just like some magical phoenix bird ready to enchant all... In fact I was so impressed and inspired I fear I may have made a major mistake: I just booked myself for a set of trapeze classes at a circus school near my office (yes, I am certifiably coo-koo, that's the only possible explanation).
Next on my list, the four-man double-decker tightrope act made my heart jump a number of times, especially when the tightrope walkers would jump over each other or create a pyramid over two bicycles (on the rope, obviously...)
And then of course the terrifying and yet totally unforgettable "wheel of death", aka Hubby Dearest's favourite act of this show, where two artists dressed as devils run and perform the most spectacular jumps and stunts inside and outside a scary apparatus that can only be described as a giant rotating double hamster wheel... if this incredibly impressive and magical act is what Cirque du Soleil means by back to basics, I'd like to come back for more, please!
I also loved the costumes, with lots of white, red and gold tones reminiscent of the traditional circus costumes (but the cuts and shapes are more Eastern theatre than European circus, if you see what I mean), with a bit of black mixed in during the darkest moments of the show (I simply loved the dancing skeletons, so quirky, where might I get myself a similar costume for Halloween 2013 I wonder!) The intricate details and the beauty of the piece make me think the Cirque designer could easily make it at any fashion house...
The only question mark for me were the clowns. Whilst the ones in Allegria or Quidam made me laugh to tears well these ones were just a bit too old-school for my liking. Some of the acts were quite funny, but they were drawn on for a bit too long, and I am not sure why Chewbacca was invited to guest star?
Anyways if you're looking for a very Cirque-like universe where you are transported into a totally new dimension straight out of the creators' minds, you might be a tad disappointed, however if you enjoy watching artists at work pushing the boundaries of human performance, this show will make your heart race and like me, you will fall in love with Kooza.
Kooza by Cirque du Soleil
Currently at The Royal Albert Hall until February 10, 2013 and then touring in Europe
Buy tickets at Cirque du Soleil.