Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna. Citi Field (see Off Broadway). By Fernand Rainville. Directed by Diane Paulus. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.
Amaluna: In brief
After dabbling in the circus arts with Pippin, director Diane Paulus goes full tent as auteur of a Cirque du Soleil pageant that celebrates women and the moon, drawing storytelling themes from Shakespeare, Mozart and ancient mythology.
Amaluna: Theater review by Jenna Scherer
Driving rock music, bare flesh and goddess worship are the order of the day in Cirque du Soleil’s latest offering, directed by Broadway heavyweight Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin). A loose (and I mean real loose) adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Amaluna takes place on an island overseen by a lady Prospero who kicks up a storm with a magical blue cello (eat your heart out, Julie Taymor). Meanwhile, her daughter, Miranda, falls for a shipwrecked prince named…er…Romeo?
Paulus’s capable hand shows in Amaluna, which takes a decidedly more theatrical approach than most Cirque productions. She doesn’t shy away from incorporating multiple circus disciplines into one single, sinuous routine: Witness an interchange between Miranda and the Moon Goddess that includes aerial hoop, hand-balancing and a transparent, bowl-shaped pool of water.
There’s no one massive set piece here, such as a flying trapeze or a giant trampoline; Amaluna is lighter on its feet than that. A bare stage allows for more dynamic scenes and transitions: an electric-guitar player near the audience, a singer in the back, acrobats swinging down from the sky. But the night’s showstopping moment is also one of its simplest: Balance artist Lili Chao erects a delicate, ever-growing aerial mobile out of palm leaf ribs, backed by simple drumbeats and the amplified sound of her own breath.
Though Amaluna does have its requisite clowns and the usual degree of Cirque silliness, this is a show for grown-ups: There’s a sexual undercurrent beneath everything, from a lizard Caliban with a Freudianly swishing tail who eyes Miranda to the perpetually shirtless male performers and sensual pas de deux.
It’s also one for the ladies. The power wielders here are goddesses and Amazons, the men constantly thrown around between them. And in an impressive move, all the show’s musicians and clowns are women. Consider the grand chapiteau’s proverbial glass ceiling shattered.—Theater review by Jenna Scherer