Photographs: Cirque du Soleil
RING OF FIRE A devilish tumbler rides the Wheel of Death
There's a comparative lack of new age waffle in David Shiner's production, which feels less like being trapped in an Enya video than other Cirque shows. And as a series of stunt setpieces it's pretty thrilling: I have no idea how the wheel of death – in which two burly gentlemen dressed as devils run, jump and climb around two enormous circular, revolving treadmills suspended from the ceiling – is in any way legal, but it's dizzying, heart in mouth stuff: as is the double high wire, the teeterboard, and the lady dancing all over a bloke on a unicycle.
Unfortunately when the stunts aren't happening, the clowning is, and it's here that 'Kooza' falls flat on its face (and not in a 'ha ha' way). The performers aren't lacking in skill, but the slickly frattish humour of the three chief clowns is wearisome, and the audience interaction feels very North American and staid.
Take the clowns out, and you'd have two hours of pretty mindblowing old-school acrobatics. As 'Kooza' stands, you've got another bloated, overconceptualised Cirque du Soleil offering. The thrills are still there, but you've got to work to get to them.