Cirque du Soleil landed in the parking lot of Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie in early February, and it had enough to charm and amaze my cynical self. The Montreal troupe’s traveling Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is staged under an enormous 62-foot-high tent that seats 2,600. Subtitled “Reality Is Relative,” the show outfits its jugglers, dancers, magicians, and acrobats in steampunk-flavored costumes as they perform in a kind of murky, surreal, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea atmosphere.
Kurios features amazingly limber athletes/performers who all possess a sexy physicality. But in addition to the buff bodies of men and women who fly through the air or catch people flying through the air, there are regular Joes and Janes like the schlubby, Einstein-like character called the Seeker. He’s the de facto MC, if you can call a mime an MC.
Be warned: Cirque fans dress for the occasion, so there’s no telling if you’ll end up sitting behind a woman with a giant mullet or a man with a beehive hairdo crowned by a black top hat. Although the crowd participation doesn’t rise to the level of, say, the antics at The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a couple of the acts break the wall between the audience and the artists, especially right before show time.
I’m a former theater kid. At any live production, I can’t help but look for the black-clad techs who shuffle props and make stage changes. Kurios offers a remarkably seamless dozen or so acts. Some of the costumes serve to disguise the set changes. The character Klara the Telegraph of the Invisible wears a skirt with hoops like Saturn’s rings. As she shuffles and spins downstage, the independent movement of the rings (sort of like half a dozen hula hoops) distracts from anything in the background.
The show is full of things (and people) that fly two stories up, or higher. There were a couple of times when the aerialists ended up perilously close to the giant lighting rigs and supports – but hey, we shouldn’t worry, because these guys are professionals, right?
It’s not that the show is all about flying people and props. The four women in the act called Bodies Electric twist themselves in half (literally) into a series of folding, bending, and changing pyramids made up of their arms, legs, and torsos.
The best performance came from the acrobatic act Russian Cradle Duo, which climbed a trapeze-like terrace about 12 feet high. The female acrobat used the burly strongman with the powerlifter’s physique as a human trapeze — instead of flying through the air back and forth on a trapeze, he’d toss her up in the air, she’d fly and then land on his hands. Which were in the air. Above his head. At the end, I realized I’d been holding my breath for most of the performance, because how are those stunts possible without wires?
Cirque du Soleil began as a group of street performers walking on stilts and breathing fire. With a little help from the Quebec government and some better props, the group launched its first tour in 1985. Subsequent productions venture into the musical territory, with tributes to the Beatles, Elvis, and Michael Jackson. There’s also a combination Cirque/Criss Angel magic and mayhem show called Believe, which runs (where else?) in Las Vegas.
Kurios, Thru Mar 26 at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, 1000 Lone Star Pkwy, Grand Prairie. $35-175. 800-450-1480.