Almost everybody becomes a child again when seated before a professional circus stage. On the edge of their seats and with eyes wide open, audiences can be overcome by an uncommon, shared sense of wonder. Under the dome-like Grand Chapiteau of Cirque du Soleil (the Montreal-based company is the world’s largest theatrical producer) it’s especially easy to feel the magic.
Slapstick humour and awe-inspiring acrobatic performances define Cirque’s newest touring production, Kooza, which centres around the story of a child-like character called “the Innocent.” A loner in search of his place in this world, our shy, pajama-clad protagonist mimes his way through a series of larger-than-life scenarios, accompanied by a live band and a roguish co-star named “the Trickster.”
Kooza is a grand performance indeed, blending the art of clowning with acrobatics and a hefty dose of audience interaction, eliciting amazed gasps throughout. One trapeze artist gracefully flips and twists throughout the air, returning after intermission to wow once more, this time by spinning seven hoops simultaneously. Two Court Clowns and their King provide comic relief in between acrobatics feats. Three gold and red clad women form tableaux of sculptural beauty, contorting their bodies together in harmonious arches and jaw-dropping maneuvers. Four high-wire walkers teeter on two wires, the tallest of which is set almost eight metres above the stage. The acrobats tread across on foot, then launch themselves onto each other’s shoulders before finally mounting bicycles and riding them skilfully across the precarious ropes.
As the show comes to a close, it becomes apparent that the Innocent’s experience was a reflection of his soul—and maybe ours too, as we sit in awe of this dreamer’s world.