Photo: Press

For those unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, this Canadian circus company has been delighting audiences around the world for almost 40 years, lighting up stages with a dazzling array of tricks and stunts. We adored their previous production Luzia – A Waking Dream of Mexico when it opened in London; in fact we ended up checking it out twice, as the run was interrupted by Covid and resumed post-lockdown. We had no complaints though, as that production was absolutely spectacular.

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities follows the same formula as its predecessor. There isn’t much in the way of a plot; instead, Kurios revolves around a theme, with the show unfolding more as a series of vignettes, united by the visual aesthetic and musical style of the production. While there’s not much in the way of a through narrative, many of the self-contained scenes tell charming, entertaining stories.

The visual aesthetic for this show is steampunk inspired and there’s some incredible costuming on display here. It looks very different to anything we’ve seen Cirque du Soleil do before – or any circus troupe for that matter – as there’s a huge amount of variety in terms of shapes or materials on display. The music impresses too, and the musicians take a prominent role in proceedings, often walking out from the band and joining in the on-stage action. The singers are frequently involved in the tricks themselves as well.

While it’s always nice to have a show that looks and sounds a treat, we’re mainly here for the tricks and stunts, and Cirque du Soleil proffer a dazzling and delightful array for the audience at the Royal Albert Hall. There are numerous highlights: a quartet of contortionists dance atop a giant mechanical hand, creating shapes you didn’t think possible; a dinner party scene has a reveal so unexpected that the entire audience gasped and forgot to clap; act two contains some extended trampolining and acrobatic sequences which are just downright spectacular.

Of course this is a show of light and shade – it can’t be dialled up to 11 the whole night – and Kurious does on occasion make things much smaller scale and more intimate, with varying results. We enjoyed a dreamlike sequence with performers’ hands projected on to a giant balloon – it was extremely effective. Other moments were less successful, however, and we regularly found the clowning sequences a bit underwhelming. A sketch involving an invisible circus is a low point – it’s a cute idea that goes on too long given, as the name suggests, there’s not actually anything to see. An extended scene involving a man pretending to be a cat overstays its welcome too.

Thankfully, for the most part, Kurios is a hugely entertaining show. Cirque du Soleil are a world-class circus troupe and the Royal Albert Hall is an incredible venue to see them perform in. It’s not a perfect production, but there are some truly spectacular performances on display here, and it all looks and sounds wonderful too. Well worth a visit.

GAY TIMES gives Kurios – 4/5

More information can be found here.