Venue: The Royal Albert Hall
Direction & Concept: David Shiner and
Music: Jean–Francois Cote
Cast: Cirque Du Soleil Company
Cirque du Soleil has been storming the
world with its unique brand of circus theatre for almost 30 years now. It was
therefore inevitable that I would walk into last night’s performance, my
inaugural Cirque de Soleil experience, with high hopes, eagerly anticipating an
evening of awe inspiring acrobatics and magical theatricality. Unfortunately, while the acrobatics surpassed
my high expectations, the rest of the show paled in comparison. I found Kooza’s
overall concept confusing, at times embarrassing even, and the broader show – I
might even call it the fluff between the skilled acts – ultimately detracted
from the incredible skill of the acrobats.
The fluff distraction starts early with an
overextended pre-show involving a group of clowns interacting with the
audience. In his programme notes,
director David Shine states that with this show he wanted to “create a world
which would reveal the interior life of the clown. In essence this would be the
world of his hope, innocence, fear, solitude, joy, and above all, his love.” This spirit is good, the execution not so
much. Once the show starts the audience must endure an often
unintelligible, pretentious, mimed preamble about an innocent lost clown
attempting to fly his kite. The novelty wears off after about five minutes and
looking around in my fidgety boredom I can say with confidence that I wasn’t
the only one waiting impatiently for the main acts to appear.
As to be expected with Cirque du Soleil
once the acrobatics began the show soared. Highlights included a trio of remarkable
contortionists and a solo gymnast seemingly defying gravity balancing on a
stack of chairs. Another clear audience favorite was the ‘Wheel of Death’ and the
music by Jean-Francois Cote had an energetic world music feel. But the
distractions persist throughout with more unamusing clown segments topped off
by a surprisingly amateurish second act opening skeleton dance.
Overall the talent, skill and sheer jaw
dropping brilliance of the acrobats outweigh the intrusive clowns and if you
are happy to endure these lulls in anticipation of acrobatic gasps of wonder
then you will enjoy ‘Kooza’.
VERDICT: *** (three stars) Absolutely breathtaking acrobatics but a messy
and confusing overall concept.