By Venus Zarris
In 1893 Chicago was host to an attraction of artistic, industrial, cultural and creative curiosities the likes of which the world had never seen brought together in one place. The White City and its surrounding halls, tents and fairgrounds created an exposition of the wonders of the world and astonished the mind-boggled fairgoers.
Not since the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 has Chicago seen such a mesmerizing fusion of freak show, spectacle and style as it sees with Cirque du Soleil’s incomparable KURIOS ~ Cabinet of Curiosities. With a hallucinogenic 19th century atmosphere, this full on phantasm of fun delivers a spellbinding evening of artistic and acrobatic marvels that entice the imagination, startle the senses and exceed reasonable expectations while transporting the audience into a fully realized Steampunk dreamscape.
KURIOS ~ Cabinet of Curiosities dares the audience to submerge into a wild world of mechanical and anthropomorphic characters that bounce along a whimsical musical pulse as they defy gravity and reality with acts that fly through the air, tickle the funny bone and induce more gasps than any 4th of July fireworks display. I actually lost count of how many times I audibly caught myself saying, “NO WAY!”
Under the artistic guidance of Guy Laliberté and Jean-François Bouchard , Writer/Director Michel Laprise creates the perfect production ~ as a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ defines Cirque du Soleil’s artistic, theatrical and acrobatic aesthetic. Director of Creation Chantal Tremblay, Set/Props Designer Stéphane Roy, Costume Designer Philippe Guillotel, Composer/Musical Director Raphaël Beau lead a team of flawless designers who together manifest an alternative dimension where reality is replaced with splendid surprises, impossible exploits and heart pounding excitement.
As each act unfolds, you are drawn in to their delicate details and explosive energies. From juggling to contortion to handbalancing high above the stage to clowning to all manner of startling aerobatics, the impeccable performers manifest the seemingly impossible right before your eyes. The costumes are works of art in and of themselves. The music, performed by spectacular musicians, is both haunting and toe-tapping. Even acts that may seem familiar at first are re-imagined into unexpectedly fabulous feats.
KURIOS ~ Cabinet of Curiosities marks Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production and it is as fresh and fantastical as any of its predecessors, proving once again that there is no end to the creativity and commitment to excellence that this international institution of entertainment has established. Often imitated but NEVER duplicated, Cirque du Soleil is the platinum standard for world-class theatrical wonders.
In a world where mediocrity is routinely marketed as marvelous and garbage is pawned off as glamour, Cirque du Soleil continues to shine through the fog of talentless fraud to beautifully give the world genuine and uncompromised brilliance. DO NOT MISS this mysterious marvel under the big top! KURIOS ~ Cabinet of Curiosities is the closest you’ll come to time traveling back to the White City and the most delightful show you’ll see this summer.
(“KURIOS ~ Cabinet of Curiosities” runs through September 20 under the Big Top in the United Center’s parking Lot K, 1901 W. Madison Street, Chicago. 877-924-7783)
KURIOS production photos by Martin Girard.