Review – Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza
– by Shawn Conner
I don’t know how it is for you, but at every Cirque du soleil show I’ve attended (I think I’m up to three, counting last night’s dress rehearsal for Kooza, which opens tonight and runs ’til Sept. 5), I am visited by weird, unwanted thoughts. Such as: What are these Eastern European countries feeding their children? What kind of sex are these people having? And, aren’t we all really here for the buns?
Don’t get me wrong – every Cirque show has stunning displays of acrobatics (or, as I call them, “holy fucking shit!” moments), fantastic costumes, imaginative set-pieces, some solid laughs and even half-decent music.
Take Kooza. I found at least three segments insane enough to warrant writing “Holy fucking shit!” in my notes: once for contortionist Lulia Mykailova; again for hula-hooper Irina Akimova; and again for my favourite sequence, “Wheel of Death”. This one came at the beginning of the second half, and featured two guys dressed like villains out of a Batman comic spinning around in a dual-hamster-cage contraption as it swung in circles, like a big baton, all set to instrumental hard-rock (the drummer was the secret star of this portion, something I only realized when, still thumping away, he and his kit rolled out onto the stage after the contraption was put away).
The laughs came via clowns Ron Campbell (looking like Don Quixote), Jimmy Slonina and Colin Heath; their slapstick antics were perfectly timed, and their skits provided breathers between the gymnastics. Costumes and music borrowed from mostly Eastern and Middle-Eastern cultures, although there was a pretty cool Mexican day-of-the-dead segment with the performers in skeleton bodysuits.
At nearly two-and-a-half hours (including intermission), though, Kooza is a little long – like Hollywood, Cirque du Soleil is trapped in this mindset that more is more. It doesn’t help that, even less than most Cirque shows – which will never be known for the tightness of the plot – Kooza seems lacking in any kind of narrative thread. Not that that really matters…
Because, again, it’s really all about the bums. And though Kooza isn’t quite as ass-tacular as previous Cirque spectacles, or at least how I remember them, there was still more than enough incredible bodies on display to remind me that I’d rather watch a nicely shaped butt spinning a hula hoop than a fireworks show any day. Call me old-fashioned.
Though I couldn’t help wondering – with all these incredible abilities and costumes, shouldn’t these people be out fighting crime instead of showing off their tushes in a tent?