Tuesday 24 January 2017

Kooza review

Trying to put into words what watching Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza (inspired by the Sanskrit words "koza", meaning "box" or "treasure") is like, is not the easiest thing when you spend the majority of the show absolutely speechless and stunned with the skills and performances of its hugely talented cast. Returning to Melbourne with this brand new show, Cirque Du Soleil dazzles once again as Kooza tells the story of The Innocent as he is transported into a world of surprises in a kingdom inhabited by strange and peculiar people.

The night is a non-stop run of entertainment and wonderment, which includes Mongolian contortionists Sunderiya Jargalsaikhan and Ninjin Altankhuyag twisting their bodies in ways and in speeds you've never seen before that would put The Exorcist to shame. Other performances include an intense double high wire act, a romantic unicycle duo and a chair balancing act that reaches some amazing heights.

However, the award for the most heart-stopping moment I have had in watching a live show would have to go to Jimmy Ibarra and Ronald Solisand with their 700kg Wheel of Death routine. Powered solely by the two Colombians, the huge wheel is rotated and counter-rotated at incredible speeds with leaps, jumps and skips that had everyone on the edge of the seats. A slight stumble from one of the performers sent fear rippling through the audience, reminding us that we are seeing high risk acts where precision timing is key with no room for even the slightest of errors.

Bandleader, Carl Murr, ensures the music is pulsing throughout the show with a fusion of jazz, funk and Bollywood beats, which includes a brilliant drum solo by Australian musician Paul Butler, making his official premiere with Kooza.

There are over 175 costumes on display during the show and designer Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt ensures that each one gorgeously builds on the spectacular world created by Stéphane Roy's set design. The dazzling main set piece - the towering Bataclan - is inspired by Hindu culture, Pakistani buses and Indian jewellery and exudes an aura of mystery and excitement to it. While taking in all these visual elements, you too, like The Innocent, have been transported into this extraordinary world.

The journey of self discovery for The Innocent ends the same way as it started, but there is a sense of confidence and strength in him now, and in some ways, this reaches out to the audience too. After having seen the spectacular acts you see in Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza, you can't help but leave the big top tent feeling like anything is possible.

Venue: Flemington Racecourse, 448 Epsom Rd, Flemington, 3031 
Season: Melbourne season until 26 March | Tue - Fri  8pm, Sat 4:30pm and 8pm, Sun 7.30pm, Sun 1:30pm and 5pm
Perth season opens on 13 April
Tickets: From $60
Bookings and further information: Cirque Du Soleil

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 24 January 2017.

Image by Matt Beard with costumes by Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt ©2012 Cirque du Soleil

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