In London for the first time, 2007’s touring production Kooza promises to revisit the classic roots of Cirque du Soleil.
While you surely couldn’t find a venue further removed from the big tops of the company’s formative years than the iconic Royal Albert Hall, the show brings Cirque du Soleil’s traditional mix of comic clowning and airborne acrobatics to the stage in a touching tale about a lonely young clown who is taken on a spectacular journey to the sights and sounds of the circus.
An unrelenting and thrilling barrage of the senses, Kooza is vivid in both its staging – the elaborate costumes and awe-inspiring set beam with colourful opulence – and the personality of its performers, who come in the form of acrobats with gravity defying abilities to match those of NASA, daredevils more skilled on wheels than Bradley Wiggins and a pickpocket who can pilfer your belongings with greater ease than the Artful Dodger.
That’s not to mention the soundtrack, which features an eclectic blend of upbeat numbers, melancholic melodies and – what show would be complete without it? – Gangnam Style.
Featuring some of the world’s most talented tightrope walkers, trapeze artists, unicyclists, contortionists, hula hoopers, human catapults, clowns and an oversized panting dog, Kooza combines exquisitely executed balancing routines with complete and utter – why is that dog urinating on the stage? – chaos.
For some audience members, there is no escape from this myriad of mayhem, and if you thought you’d be safe in the middle of a row then think again. Wreaking havoc on the entire breadth of the stalls, the company’s mischievous clowns clamber over seats in order to weed out their unsuspecting victims, who range from a fully grown man ballet dancing in a tutu to an apprehensive young woman who completely vanishes.
While it is the performers on stage who are giving their bodies the real workout, for the audience – even those watching from a safe distance – it proves equally exhausting, as Kooza provides a jam-packed evening of jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, nerve-wracking, side-splitting, heart-stopping entertainment.