Theatre Blogger: KURIOS-CABINET OF CURIOSITIES from Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil’s latest spectacle, Kurios-Cabinet of Curiosities, returns to the yellow-and-blue big top at Randall’s Island this fall with a steampunk fantasy realm that dazzles from start to finish.
Arguably one of the best circuses on the planet, Cirque du Soleil has had many productions running simultaneously and internationally, some more riveting than others. After the lackluster performance of Toluk at Barclay’s last month, I was unsure if Kurios could captivate the attention of my 5-year-old daughter and I. but my doubts were immediately allayed. This, Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production to date, was the troupe at its finest and most captivating.
Written and directed by Michel Leprise, Kurios offers a window into a magical 19th century world where poetry and machine meet, and where new tricks dazzle the senses and the imagination. There are surprises and delights in each act, from the opening moments when the performers emerge from a 62-foot steam train, to later on in the show, when gramophones and typewriters circle the rim of circus arena and a huge mechanical hand crosses it. Jugglers and expert acrobats miraculously balance on aerial bicycles, on a giant swing, and on stacked chairs in an upside-down world. An aviator teeters on the rola bola, keeping the audience on the edge of its seat.
Kurios doesn’t have a tight narrative, but it doesn’t need to, either, to showcase its magic. The performance is presided over by a character called the Seeker, a quasi- mad scientist who rushes around the stage unleashing unusual characters from his cabinet. The curiosities are spectacularly attired thanks to the artistry of Phillippe Guillote, and include 3-foot tall Mini Lili, performed by Antanina Satsura, who inhabits a miniature cottage on display in the lobby; Nico the Accordion Man, whose pants have a will of their own; and Mr. Microcosmos, who runs on his own steam. A troupe of live musicians with fiddles, accordion and French chanteuse enlivens the show with its stylish cabaret and echoes of a bygone era.
There were quite a few school-aged children present at this production, and they were engaged by most of the acts in the two hour production (plus a 20-minute intermission). Some of the imagery was unusual, which might be potentially confusing to some children. Also, a comic scene in the second act involving a female audience member romantically pursued by clown and suitor Facundo Gimenez, while perfectly innocent, might not be appropriate for the youngest of the elementary school set. Other than that, I’d say Kurios is worth every bit of the journey for ages 5 on up.
Kurios runs on Randall’s Island through November 27. Tickets can be purchased by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or by calling 1-877-9-CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783). Tickets range from $54-$175. If you travel by car, the circus tent is conveniently located right over the Triborough Bridge. There is a private parking lot for the event, but I found it difficult to locate, and it costs $25 per vehicle. It’s also about a 5-10 minute walk to the big top, in an area that is currently under construction, so if you travel by car it’s wise to leave extra time. There is also a shuttle bus service run by Cirque du Soleil available in Manhattan, from 124th at the corner of 3rd Ave to and from the Big Top. Roundtrip passes are $15 per person, and need to be purchased in advance. Biking and walking are doable, although a bit of a schlep. The M35 bus also goes to the island. For those who want to avoid the travel hassle, there’s always Uber, as no taxis are allowed on the island.
Originally published in Motherhood Later than Sooner.