REVIEW: Kooza (Cirque du Soliel)

Review by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth

[Oh to be a Child again…]

We had forgotten how exceptional Cirque du Soliel is at creating a spectacle.

The huge circus tent in Alexandra Park is reminiscent of a Big Top that transports us to our childhood in a flash – the rake of the seating, the ringmaster and clowns, beautiful people everywhere, the grease paint and sweat of sheer performance.  

Like all Circque du Soliel shows Kooza is a slick operation from start to finish.  The production values are remarkable and have only become better since our first Cirque experience with Saltimbanco in HK (2000). And for a show that’s almost 12 years old, Kooza still manages to wow and woo us.

While there is the usual razzmatazz that comes with any Cirque du Soleil show, the most refreshing aspect is seeing impeccable human skill being showcased.

We caught many people, including ourselves at times, gawking with jaws dropped wide open during this extremely entertaining evening. And there are many heart-stopping moments resulting in some rather sharp intakes of breath.

The storyline is gossamer, ethereal and often flies to the wind, but all we want to see is the electrifying acts, punctuated by ridiculous clowning and some audience participation to successfully engage the huge crowd.

A fabulous element of the show is the ability to push boundaries just that little bit more every single time. A series of mesmerising moments undeniably brings out the child in everyone –and that’s quite a coup, given the amount of ludicrous stuff that the world presents us with on a daily basis.

Top of that list are the two contortionists that we see early in the piece.  There is something so elating, elegant and thrilling about seeing this pair stretch the limits of the human body to such extremes with finesse and grace.  This act rivals anything we have seen recently.

Another highlight is the unicycle act that exhibits human dexterity at its rawest and most spectacular.

Possibly the most disappointing part of the show was the music.  Much as the performances were absolutely stunning and the vocalists were top notch, we were a little let down by the calibre of the music composition.  The fact that buying a CD didn’t even occur to us this time speaks volumes, having always purchased the soundtrack at many Cirque shows.  Often the original compositions are haunting, sending shivers down our spines.  But this time it was just a lovely score that wasn’t particularly unique or memorable.  

The opposite was the case with the costumes.  Marie-Chantal Vaillancourt’s costumes enhance every performer’s artistry exquisitely.  Our favourites are the dramatic headdresses with a Voodoo-esque flavour.  And the black and white colour palette for this vignette sets the scene impeccably.

It’s rare to be in a crowd of over 2,500 people in New Zealand experiencing anything but a headline pop band or a rugby match, but Kooza brings us together and captivates us in just that way.

Overall, we expected Kooza to be “more of the same” Cirque du Soleil since the show was created over a decade ago.  But instead it enchants, beguiles, shocks and awes, leaving us uplifted and amazed.

This much fun is a rare thing.

Kooza plays Alexandra Park, Auckland until 17 March. 

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  1. Dance performances Jan – March 2019 and associated reviews – allmyownwords

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