Timeout New York Kids

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Kooza by Cirque du Soleil

Randall's Island Park. Created by Guy Lalibert. Dir. David Shiner. Ensemble cast. 2 hrs 40 min. One intermission.

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5


Yes, we love the Big Apple Circus and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, too. But we've got to admit, their rosters of talent can't compare to the cast of Kooza, Cirque du Soleil's latest spectacle.

The performers do more than leave viewers slack-jawed; their stunts are so incredible and seemingly life-threatening, they inspire many patrons to cover their eyes, clench their fists and audibly gasp in disbelief. Despite familiar tricks (balancing, unicycling, tumbling, etc.), every act—save for a ho-hum one-woman trapeze number—manages to surprise.

The trio of contortionists, for example, barely looks human. Working as a team, they twist themselves into impossible positions that snakes might envy. Toward the end of the bit, one of the limber ladies rests her chin on the ground, hoists her body above her head and rotates her legs full-circle like a spider. A band of high-wire hunks build palpable suspense as they hop over one another and ride a tandem bike carrying a seated colleague atop a stick suspended between them. Two slightly insane daredevils tame the Wheel of Death by walking and jumping both inside and outside the spinning cylinders, without safety harnesses.

While the feats are stunning, adult fans of Cirque du Soleil may be disappointed by other elements. The original music is forgettable, the choreography is uninspired, and the plot—an innocent clown receives a box containing a devilish trickster, who transports him to a colorful new world ruled by a dotty king and his vulgar cohorts—is a bit disjointed. Kids should appreciate the lowbrow, Three Stooges--style humor as the clowns slap one another's behind with a steak, but while the crasser comedy (pot smoking, leering) may fly over children's heads, you could be in trouble if your tyke likes to imitate.

The opening number of Act II, in which the company emerges in skeleton costumes in a Day of the Dead tribute, might freak out littler viewers. But don't worry: It's nothing that some popcorn, candy and eye-popping acts can't cure.—Julia Israel

Kooza is playing at Randall's Island Park through Jun 21. Tickets: $60--$135



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