I’m running away to join the circus!

Laura and I are just back from experiencing an early Christmas present.  Laura had treated me to Tapis Rouge tickets to see the last performance of Kooza by Cirque du Soleil at the National Harbor.  The show was spectacular, and this production in a real “big top” temporary structure was just incredible.

Kooza under canvas at the National Harbor

Kooza under canvas at the National Harbor

The Tapis Rouge tickets meant that we had VIP parking, and with the National Harbor just 20 minutes away from our home in nortehrn Virginia it couldn’t have been easier to get to the venue.  Once there we entered the VIP lounge and enjoyed our complimentary glasses of wine and champagne as we toured the gift shop and nibbled at the selection of food available.  If only all theatre performances were as well catered.  Having grown up used to the scrum at the bar during the interval of RSC productions to be offered complimentary drinks before the show and during the interval, and having space to enjoy them was a huge surprise.

Then the show itself, the story of “the innocent” and his exploration of the world.  From a historical standpoint one can easily draw lines between this production and more classical Commedia dell’arte.  The King was the “vecchio” (the wize elder), his two clowns were the zanni (eccentric servants).  The Trickster was the controlling, puck-ish character, manipulating all of the others with his magical powers, and the Innocent was the everyman character, pulling us in to this magical world through his experiences.  There was even a “comic dog” role that would have fitted in well on the Elizabethan stage!

Even before the show had begun one of the clowns had managed to shower those of us in the front row with popcorn, and then played havoc with the mess with a leafblower!  The effect had us in stitches of laughter as he attempted to straighten our hair and dust us off with the leaf blower.

My favourite act was the contortionists, I cannot do justice to the beauty of their act here in words.  Just go and see the show!  Watching them was seeing the human form as liquid as they bent, flexed and lifted each other in ways that made your brain wonder how a body could bend so many different ways.  I would love to see the performance under x-rays to see how they can bend and move as they do without falling apart, or snapping their spines.  Magical, and definitely the highlight of an amazing first half.

Also in this half we saw a large display of clowning acrobatics, some brilliant trapeze work, and the finished off with some brilliant highwire work, culminating in two gentlement riding bicycles on the highest wire, some 30 feet above the stage, whilst carry ing a bar on their shoulders on which was balanced a chair supporting a 3rd gentleman standing precariously some 40 feet above the stage!

In the second half, the “Wheel of Death” was dropped from the top of the tent and two brilliant gymnasts worked the wheels.  If you’ve never seen this act performed get yourself to a Cirque show and see it, it is an awe inspiring sight.  This was the last performance of the run in D.C. and I think the excitement and enjoyment of the moment had got to the cast as during this act there were two moments when the man on the outside of the wheel slipped or stumbled from a trick and had to grab on.  Truely amazing to behold. As were the unicycle duo, who managed more dancing on one wheel than I can manage on 2 feet.

What a brilliant Christmas present, and what an absolutely marvelous show.  Thanks Laura :*

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