By Behdad Mahichi
Every night in the heart of the Toronto Portlands, crowds converge towards the monumental yellow and blue striped tents to witness a spectacular surprise. Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto once again, but this time with its newest production — one that takes you to an alternate steampunk reality.
Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities is Cirque’s 35th production since its humble beginnings in 1984. This show is certainly one of Cirque’s most exceptional works, with critics calling it their “strongest act in years.” The director, Michel Laprise, explained he wanted to create a world that people could immerse themselves in and feel welcome. Toronto now has the chance to indulge in this world, where “reality is relative” and “seeing is disbelieving.”
Kurios is based in what the show calls a retro-future. Based on the late 19th century, it makes several references to the industrial revolution and the age of inventions. The storyline follows an inventor who constructs a contraption allowing him to defy the laws of time, space and dimension. His creation opens the door to an alternate reality, where he is granted the ability to reinvent everything around him with the power of boundless imagination.
A notable difference this new production has with previous shows is its focus on human characters, contrasting itself from shows such as OVO which took inspiration from the world of insects. By doing so, they have drawn away from creating a hyper-surreal show, and instead have left enough human reference to allow the audience to believe an alternate world could be a reality.
Common circus disciplines such as juggling, balancing and contortion are all taken to the next level and given a new spin. From upside down biking to street-style trampoline bouncing, you’ll be left questioning how such things are even possible with the human body.
The performers present the show in a uplifting and remarkable manner. One of the audience’s favourite acts, the Rola Bolla, features performer James Eulises Gonzalez Correa suspended in midair while balancing on several cylinders and planks. Silence falls when he’s pulled up ten meters in the air and lets go of the ropes. You’ll be holding your breath until he’s back down.
Another great quality of this show is its set design. Featuring nick-nacks and custom made material, Kurios is detailed to the extreme. Its charm goes hand in hand with the show’s music. Expect the songs to be stuck in your head for at least a couple of days — the jazzy electro-swing is played live by an orchestra in a clockwork structure in the far back of the stage. CDs for the music are in high demand — Cirque is expected to release the recorded tracks late October.
Tickets are pricey, yes. But keep an eye out for promotions or student discounts. Kurios is a must-see, and you have ample time to do so — Cirque du Soleil is in town until October 26.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmnJBc0M1lY[/youtube]