|Artwork from Kooza, featuring 'The Trickster' (Source: Group Line).|
|The Innocent. Being Innocent.|
It's his thing, yo.
(Source: Cirque du Soleil).
As far as it goes in theatricality, anything is better than Ovo, so while Kooza lacks any serious discussion, its sense of storyline is pretty random, and its mise-en-scène is just a mélange of 'anything goes', it's still somehow enjoyable to watch. The plot focuses on a character called The Innocent (who is, you guessed it, innocent), who is pulled into a "zany kingdom" which is created and ruled by The Trickster (tricky, but also sinister). There's also a bunch of skeletons who turn up for one scene - no one will be able to explain why.
For Kooza, I'm happy to temporarily abandon my insanity and morals, and excuse the quality of the theatrical elements since the acts really blow you away, and there is a distinctly higher calibre of acrobatics and athleticism compared to other Cirque du Soleil productions. Aerial acts including the Highwire and Wheel of Death attracted the biggest applause I've ever heard for Cirque acts, where it was surreal to look around the entire Royal Albert Hall and see everyone clapping furiously. The Mystic Pixies have long departed from the tour, but the trio of tiny Asian women who perform Contortion brought the house down with a similar routine. The two highlights of the evening were the Hoops Manipulation and the Balancing on Chairs. I've wanted to see Irina Akimova's hoops act for years and it was certainly worth the wait (her act is better suited in Delirium, since there was better music and her costume wasn't as hideous), as she spins five hoops while rotating and grinning at the audience, and Yao Deng Bo's serene and languid act shows a mastery of patience and the entire scene is beautifully choreographed. We missed out on the Trapeze, and whoever was managing backstage apparently forgot there is a rotational act (Hand to Hand) that could have replaced it . . .
|Akimova's Manipulation act (Source: Tumblr).|
Despite any criticism, I very much enjoyed the evening, and I think any London theatre viewers who were a bit disillusioned by Totem will enjoy Kooza due to its linearity and superb circus feats. The material performed by clowns is awful, the music is very contrived and the theatricality is lacking, but Kooza has its moments and certainly enchants the audience. At the end of the show the cast get together on stage and yell "Kooza!". Why not?
'Kooza' is also an underwear brand.
Just saying it like it is.
Tickets for Cirque du Soleil's Kooza are £25 - £80, and is showing at The Royal Albert Hall until February 14th. Duration of approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 30 minute interval. Book by visiting Cirque du Soleil's website.