The show: KURIOS (Cirque du Soleil)
When it’s on: Now through October 26, 2014, in Toronto (down at The Port Lands) and then it’s on to San Francisco starting November 14, 2014; then in 2015 it goes to Seattle, Calgary and Denver. Buy tickets here.
What it’s about: If you’ve never seen a Cirque show, you need to know going in that the stories are about everything and nothing and go here to there and back again all in an instant. The official word on KURIOS is this: “In his larger-than-life curio cabinet, the Seeker is convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world – a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams lie waiting. A collection of otherworldly characters suddenly step into his makeshift mechanical world… and turn [it] upside down with a touch of poetry and humor in an attempt to ignite the Seeker’s imagination.”
You’ll find that the story line is simply a loose veil, under which you’ll discover the phantasmagoria that is Cirque du Soleil. (Scroll all the way to the end for photos!) With the most fantastical creatures and characters, dreamed up by the wildest imaginations. With costumes and makeup that in and of themselves are standing ovation-worthy. All of the usual elements are present: beautifully sung, ethereal music; contortionists; trapeze artists; bodies so perfect and toned that you can only look at them in awe and appreciation; quirky characters that will steal your heart; and a set that helps bring this otherworldly brilliance to life.
KURIOS starts the minute you walk into the Grand Chapiteau area adjacent to the parking lot. Not even through the gates, you’ll be wowed by characters scaling the roof of the Big Top, and probably stopped by photographers (in full costume). There’s music playing and gives the illusion of lineups moving at the speed of light, because you’re already engrossed in performance. Past the ticket-taker, you can buy $8 popcorn and $5 water bottles, check out your photos or have more taken on a green screen, or simply move directly into the theatre. We took our seats at about 4:05 p.m. and there was already action on the stage, even though the show wasn’t slated to begin until 4:30 p.m. When you have small children with you, this is a God-send. Time slipped by and the closer it got to showtime, the more action started to happen on stage, with lighting crew members (also in costume and in character) scaling the walls to get up to their posts. Everything done with precision and perfection.
You really only know the “real” show is starting because the lights go down. And what a show it is. Time ticks slowly on a big clock centre stage, and the bulk of the show takes place in what’s represented as a mere minute. We’re introduced to a cast of characters who offer up the most delightful treats for the senses. And that’s one thing that I love about Cirque shows: it doesn’t matter where you look, there’s always something happening. However, since this is a temporary theatre with non-permanent seating, it’s a bit cramped. The seats are small and close together and not “stadium-style” like you may be used to if you’ve seen only permanent shows, like those in Las Vegas or Orlando. Unless our kids sat on our laps, they weren’t able to see anything happening on-stage. And that meant the poor people behind us had an obstructed view. So if you’re taking small children (and you should), get front-row seats or sit much higher up in the back.
Although many Cirque shows have a lot going on up high, this one actually has a lot happening right on the stage. It’s not as “elevated” as you might be used to. So you really do need to have a full view of the stage floor to see 100 per cent of all the glorious things going on. I had someone who can only be described as a WNBA player sitting in front of me and I had to careen right and left, dodging her shoulders to give Miss Q the best view. Which meant I missed a few things myself. That’s my only complaint – the seating. The rest? Pure, must-see magic.
What Miss Q (age 3.5) said: “The guys on the trampoline looked very funny; I want to do that when I’m bigger!”
What The K Man (age 6) said: “That was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen! My favourite part was the invisible lion.”
The verdict? Take the kids if you can swing it financially, or plan it as a fun date night if two tickets reach your max budget. Either way, GO!