The Canadian entertainment giant is the world’s largest producer of “nouveau cirque”, coming up on forty years in the biz, and their annual London residency is always a highlight at the Royal Albert Hall. Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities (2014) has been wowing audiences all over the world for years, but this marks the show’s European debut.
The main attraction of Cirque du Soleil is the world-class acrobatics, and this show doesn’t disappoint. In particular, the quartet of contortionists dressed as electric eels (Ayagma Tsybenova; Baasansuren Enkhbaatar; Bayarma Parry; Imin Tsydendambaeva) make shapes that don’t even seem human. The second half elicits much more applause than the first, showcasing the “acro net”, with members of the company bounding off a giant trampoline to such heights it literally looks like they are flying.
The clowning in between the stunt acts features some hilarious on-stage audience participation (Facundo Giminez), and allows us to take in the breathtaking production design (Philippe Guillotel; Stéphane Roy), which includes a pair of steampunk gramophones mechanically making their way around the circular stage like a toy train. A live six-piece band, and immersive sound and lighting design (Martin Labrecque; Jacques Boucher; Jean-Michel Caron), which takes over the entire auditorium, creates an atmosphere that is at times overwhelming.
It’s not exactly life-changing stuff, and you’re sure to have seen something similar before. But Kurios offers the definition of a good time for all, transcending language and culture, and cements Cirque du Soleil’s reputation as London’s landmark circus event.
Playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London 13 January – 12 February 2023.