Left – Wheel of death artists. Photo – Matt Beard. Costumes – Marie Chantale Vaillancourt. Cover – Wheel of Death. Photo – Tomas Correa Arce. Costumes – Marie Chantale Vaillancourt
It’s hard to remember the days of circus theatre before the establishment that is Cirque du Soleil. Infamous in name the world over, it is known even by the people that have never seen it – Cirque du Soleil is truly the ‘mother’ of the modern circus and is what is often the basis for comparison for every cirque theatre seen – especially by myself since I started my avid fandom back at the tender age of ten. Having been fortunate enough to attend so many here in Australia, as well as in their Las Vegas element and even in the company’s own country of origin, Canada, I have never tired or lost that feeling of shock and awe that is the staple of every single production. Every show is as different as it is spectacular and Cirque du Soleil’s touring production of Kooza is just as you expect from the world’s most famous circus – absolutely spectacular!
Inside the Grand Chapiteau you are greeted with the familiar amusement of the clowns, weaving their way through the crowd and causing havoc amongst the audience. This production’s theme is based around a little boy with a kite who finds himself in a world of mischief after opening a package he receives.
‘Whimsical’ would certainly be an apt description of Kooza – with everything from the candy striped costume of the rascally ring leader to the high energy of the set changes in between gravity defying acts. I dare not give anything away as the show is set to stun and no amount of literary description could prepare you for that feeling of genuine fear when you watch the various acts perform with little to no safety netting or straps. Light hearted laughter and a giddy sense of excitement fills you as your watch this world of mischief unfold for the little boy and us – the audience. Like any thrill ride you have a true sense of fear and anticipation and you gasp for air and roar in applause at the victory of each performer’s death defying abilities.
Set design and costumes are what I believe make Cirque du Soleil so special, and Kooza has no holds barred. I was truly taken by a real sense of cross cultural inclusion and the little details in the costumes and hair designs kept me constantly changing my mind on what the performers looked like. Are they soldiers or animals? Caesaresque-fishscales-come-Ming Dynasty Monkey meets Moroccan Market stall holders. I’m lost in description as the costumes fit no genre and yet every genre simultaneously like only Cirque du Soleil could do. In addition to these culture clash costumes the music was just as genre defying. The band, headed by an amazing vocalist, sit atop the stage like musical sailors in what I could only describe as Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. You are surrounded by a sea of wonder and the vocalist is the Siren that will sing you to your delight, not your demise. With music from every corner of the globe you sail through the sounds of jazz and salsa with a distinct Tim Burtonesque voodoo vibe, tap your toes to rock and roll before spiriting away to the mountains of Tibet then winding back through to the streets of Morocco. NOW the costumes make sense. If you could capture the spirit of ‘around the world in 80 days’ and transform it in to costume, music and set design the theme of Kooza is most definitely what you would see.
With a heavy focus on audience interaction it is interesting to see how Cirque du Soleil have changed and evolved over the years. It is not just fear and delight now but a a real sense of joy and joking around as the clowns drag the unsuspecting audience members up on stage for a little comedy and fun between all the agility and awe. Even the ‘unlucky’ guest who is jibed and jabbed up on stage has newfound celebrity status in the intermission as the audience paid homage to her bravery for surviving the stage clowns. Long gone are the days of prodding the animal through the hoop for our entertainment – now we are the show ponies! What fun it is, as we are at the circus after all!
A marvel of design; costume and music perfectly paired with performances to make your mouth drop. A heart warming adventure of a little boy who travels with us through the magical world of Kooza! Through the fun and frivolous to the deep dark depths of the underworld he is delivered back to his home and reunited with his kite. I almost got teary at the strength of such a beautifully simple image; alone but not lonely.
Another instalment of Cirque du Soleil for the history books, and another fantastic memory to add to the collection. What a wonderful world it can be when you run away to join the circus – even just as a spectator.
Cirque du Soleil presents
Venue: Skygate Brisbane Airport (near DFO)
Dates: 24 November 2016 – 8 January 2017
Bookings: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza | 1800 036 685
Melbourne From January 20 2017, Flemington Racecourse
Perth From April 13 2017, Belmont Park Racecourse, Victoria Park Drive (off Farmer Freeway), Burswood