Australia has had its fair share of circus shows in the last decade, so there’s been an obvious collective hesitation to attend another Cirque du Soleil production at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter beneath the behemoth that is the Grand Chapiteau that has kept the world captivated for years. But in the latest venture from the French Canadian circus troupe, Kooza becomes the perfect circus act that combines a heart-warming story with awe-inspiring performances, avoiding so many of the same routines that have grown tired over time.
As typical in Cirque shows, the plot of Kooza is among the loosest of narratives in show business. Following the young and naïve character The Innocent, the audience sees as his eyes are open by the Trickster, taking him to the magical world. Naturally this cautionary tale has a redeeming ending, and most of the plot is designed to set the scene for the grand circus acts to take place.
Indeed, what the viewers line up around the corner for is the stupendous and exhilarating routines brought together by director and creator David Shiner. The opening act, boasting of an intense sequence of acrobatics, is the perfect start to the show, leading into a beautifully entrancing duet between contortionists. But these seem like merely entrees to a full buffet of high adrenaline acts including the classic high-wire act that includes riding bicycles across the tightrope, as well as the equally traditional “Wheel of Death” spinning faster and faster above the stage.
Naturally there are poorer moments of the show, and some acts seem to be reaching their expiry date in enjoyment and shock factor. The aerial hoop and hula hoop routine were rather stale in comparison to the solo chair balancing act and duo on the unicycle. Nevertheless the show’s run allowed for big and loud routines to slip in between soulful and fascinating smaller performances. The final ensemble act sees all cast members come together to fling each other into the air, is without a doubt the most crowd pleasing part of the show.
The clowns – often a make or break element of most Cirque du Soleil shows – are not as irritatingly obnoxious or as exasperating as in past show. Of course it includes making audience participants feel uncomfortable and at times you just want to skip past these scenes, but their unique characterization is a departure from the traditional clown and modernizes is to suit the narrative of Kooza.
Much of the enjoyment of the show comes down to the strong production team. Each individual costume is spectacular and helps define the roles in such a busy stage scene. Similarly the composed music is excellent and contributes to the atmosphere of the acts in such an emotive way, mostly replacing the coherent narrative. It’s not as ethereal or holistic as Cirque’s Totem, but it is a spectacle that is joyous, humble and unlike most other live performances you can catch in Sydney.
Kooza reminds audiences why Cirque du Soleil has existed for so long and is celebrated as the world’s best troupe. It also embodies much of what Cirque has developed thematically in the past. It isn’t just a show with pretty decorations, but aims to bring heart and soul to the circus experience that is both touching to adults and children. And that’s why, yet again, Kooza is a must see show in Sydney this year.
Kooza is showing at the Entertainment Quarter until the 13th of November. Tickets are still available from the Cirque Du Soleil website.
Published on Pulp Media, September 6, 2016.