REVIEW: KURIOUS – Cirque du Soleil (Royal Albert Hall)

Internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil is back at the Royal Albert Hall this year with Kurios; Cabinet of Curiosities. Originally seen first in 2014, Kurios is a steampunk Jules Verne meets fantasy-styled show that is sure to delight, mystify and entertain London audiences.

Kurios revolves around a Seeker who is convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world – a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams lie waiting. A collection of otherworldly characters suddenly steps into his makeshift mechanical world. When the outlandish, benevolent characters turn his world upside down with a touch of poetry and humor in an attempt to ignite the Seeker’s imagination, his curios jump to life one by one before his very eyes. What if by engaging our imagination and opening our minds we could unlock the door to a world of wonders?

In true Cirque du Soleil style, the show begins as soon as you enter the hallowed Royal Albert Hall, with characters situated around the auditorium dressed as robots, scientists and even a set of conjoined twins. Reminiscent of the O2 Climb or the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk, a large arching bridge sits atop the stage and offers a lucky few audiences members the chance to climb over the stage to find their seats on the other side. Stephane Roy’s set and props design offer the audience a glimpse of what’s in store with other-worldly mechanical devices and curious gramophone creations dotted about the stage. Closer to showtime, Anton Valen’s Seeker appears and begins to connect the mechanical devices illuminating the stage as the music begins and our imaginations are ignited.

Cirque du Soleil is known around the world as the preeminent contemporary circus producer and their Kurios does not disappoint. Ladled with attitude and Victorian grit, each act takes the stage and stuns the audience; winning them over again and again with astounding feats, expert agility and masterful skill. Particular highlights include the fun invisible circus performed by Facundo Giminez from Argentina, where invisible performers take to the stage and perform traditional circus acts including a real life invisible lion. Appearing on a large moving mechanical hand, Ayagma Tsybenova, Baasansuren Ankhbaatar, Bayarma Parry and Imin Tsydendambaeva perform as electric eel contortionists and delight the audience with their craft. Andrii Bondarenko from the Ukraine performs an amazing handbalancing feat in a segment entitled Upside Down World. Andrii and the other characters sit at a table as he begins to stack the chairs ontop, climbing as he goes.

Halfway through the same scene appears in the rafters of the Royal Albert Hall, directly above Andrii mirroring him in an upsidedown world. Will the two worlds meet? Act Two begins with a large net covering the entire stage and the audience are treated to a wonderful Acro Net performance. Nine performers jump, flip and bounce high into the Royal Albert Hall ceiling as the audience sits in absolute awe smiling ear to ear. Our conjoined twins Roman Tomanov and Vitali Tomanov (both from USA/Russia) are next up performing a soaring Aerial Stap routine high above the audience.

Lastly, we meet Chih-Min Tuan (from Tiwan, Republic of China) who performs an amazing Yo-Yo act. Nothing like the two tricks I could do in primary school, Tuan performs with such skill and speed the yo-yos were a blur! A large hot air balloon then descended upon the audience and the Theatre of Hands was projected onto it. A very clever hand theatre piece, Nico Baxias (from Spain) told a story using on his hands which had the audience rapt and cheering along. With a soundtrack you’ll be humming on the way out, a set of live musicians set the mood and add to each scene with syncopated beats, other-worldly charm and Cirque du Soleil signature vocal.

After facing an uncertain future during the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil is back in full force with Kurios; Cabinet of Curiosities. As the show programme aptly reads, “Close your eyes and open your heart. Now look again and behold the wonder.” With plenty of surprises in store to mystify and delight, make sure you grab your ticket to see this magnificent production now.

★★★★★

Reviewed by Stuart James

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