There is something about a circus that washes away all the angst and worries of adult life and brings out the inner child in most of us. I saw many big “kids” become small kids at the opening of Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities at the Port Lands in Toronto on Thursday, August 28, 2014. There truly was an ambiance of mischief and joviality, one not usually experienced at the theatre, fueled by characters from the show walking among the audience looking for victims to poke fun at as we waited for the show to begin on The Grand Chapiteau stage.
Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities, is a work celebrating curiosity and imagination. Cirque du Soleil’s latest production focuses on the Seeker who possesses a curio cabinet of items he has accumulated on his travels. This cabinet and its fascinating content spurs the Seeker on to test his imagination and enter a new reality. The set, designed by Stéphane Roy and littered with items such as a gramophone, typewriter and bugle, evokes the Industrial Age, but it is in fact an alternate and more human reality where the steam engine has dominated over the internal combustion engine. A huge mechanical hand that weighs 750 pounds has been built by the Seeker with materials he has found; it also acts as a performance structure. The hand symbolizes creativity and independence in a do-it-yourself era similar to the Industrial Age. Roy’s dazzling set also includes a locomotive train that delivers passengers onto the stage.
While delving into this alternate reality, the Seeker meets a cast of unusual characters who encourage him to explore his imagination. There is Mr. Microcosm, a left-brain dominated inventor, who carries Mini Lili around in his belly. Played by Antanina Satsura who is one metre tall, Mini Lili represents Mr. Microcosm’s right-brain intuitive side. Other colourful characters include Klara, the telegraph of the invisible and Nico The Accordion Man. Many other objects come to life and perform amazing feats.
With so much talent in the production, it’s difficult to highlight particular performances . I will note that while all performances were outstanding, the following acts were particularly jaw-dropping:
Contortion features four women dressed as deep sea creatures who emerge from the Seeker’s cabinet to perform acrobatics on the Mechanical Hand. The women form a pyramid, demonstrating phenomenal strength and balance.
Upside Down left me mesmerized by their chair balancing act up in the rafters.
Banquine demonstrated superb acrobatic dominance and reached enormous heights in their performance.
Costumes designed by Philipa Guillotel were spectacular, particularly Klara’s hula-hoop skirt and the green sea uniforms of Contortion.
After the performance, we enjoyed an after party catered by Union Restaurant, Chiado, Artsy Baker and other sponsors.
Kurios left me with a feeling of euphoria. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a live performance more and I now understand why people run away to the circus.
Kurios is performed at the Grand Chapiteau at the Toronto Port Lands from August 28 to October 26, 2014. See it before it leaves for San Francisco.