Cirque du Soleil goes steampunk in a new show that will pique your curiosity.
The first new Cirque du Soleil show to pitch its tent outside the United Center since 2011 (though the troupe has visited the suburbs with arena shows in the interim), Kurios arrives with much fanfare and some new tricks up its sleeve.
The aesthetic is vaguely steampunk, with many of the cast clad in colorful dusters and aviator goggles and a set awash in roving gramophones, Edison bulbs and clockwork elements. You’ll be hard-pressed to find evidence of the plot asserted in Cirque’s descriptions of the show, involving a “Seeker” who finds an invisible world in a curio cabinet. But director Michel Laprise keeps the acts flowing so smoothly a story won’t be missed. From the opening group number (appropriately referred to as “Chaos synchro”), the action is continually awe-inspiring.
The stage is mostly bare, with new set pieces rolled out for particular acts, sometimes in clever disguise: An aviator flies in on a propeller plane that, after landing, unfolds into a platform for his anxiety-inducing balancing act; a trio of contortionists performs on the back of a giant mechanical hand; an acrobat performs aerial stunts not on silks but on a tricked-out bicycle. The silly comic acts go on long enough to wear thin, but a driving score and inventive twists on the usual circus skills keep Kurios's pace feeling furious.
Cirque du Soleil at United Center. Directed by Michel Laprise. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 15mins; one intermission.