Cirque du Soleil was flying high last Friday with the opening of Kurios, the Montreal-based troupe’s 35th offering, making its US premiere under the blue and gold tent next to AT&T Park. The enthusiastic audience (including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom) came primed for fun—some dressed in vintage garb in keeping with the production’s steampunk design motif.
While the various acrobats and contortionists are spellbinding, as usual, it’s that aesthetic vision that really makes this production soar. Kudos to director Michel Laprise and his design team, who realize a world of gadgets and gizmos that unspool before us like Alice’s journey through Wonderland.
At one point, a tea party that could have been straight out of Lewis Carroll’s fable is interrupted by a performer who scales an ever-higher stack of chairs upon the table. Suddenly, a mirror-image tea party appears overhead, all its guests hanging upside-down, while one descends his own pile of chairs, until the two men meet in the middle. Miraculous.
As with other Cirque productions I’ve seen, the storyline is so scant as to hardly bear mentioning, and the comedy routines pale beside the physical feats—an “invisible circus” act being the worst offender. (Where are Bill Irwin and David Shiner when you need them?) But these are minor quibbles in a night that otherwise levitates on currents of spectacle and wonder.
Kurios plays in San Francisco through January 18.