Review: Cirque du Soleil KOOZA!

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

The Grand Chapiteau, Entertainment Quarter, Sydney

The story
KOOZA goes back to the very roots of Cirque du Soleil, when its founders performed in street theatre back in their home city of Québec, with the traditions of clowning to the forefront. There are no red noses, but the time-honoured traditions of clowning are brought to life in this show.

Having seen many Cirque du Soleil shows before, I am used to having my mouth hang open with amazement at the acrobatic skill and sheer guts that these athletes have. But KOOZA outdid them all and I resorted to covering my mouth with my hands – sometimes one, sometimes both – at the level of daring I was witnessing. I wasn’t alone, with plenty of hands covering faces, people gasping and a lady behind me yelling “Oh My God!” at regular intervals.
The three acts that will get your heart pounding are the Double High Wire, the Teeterboard and the one that tops them all – the Wheel of Death. I don’t want to give much away because it will be much more impactful when you see it yourself, but let’s say that your pulse will be racing when you see the Wheel of Death, with its devilish duo running for their lives. Ad for the Teeterboard, while you may have seen similar acts in other Cirque shows, this one has one element that will absolutely surprise you – it certainly had the audience leaping to their feet on opening night. And the High Wire is just straight out incredible. How do they do what they do? No idea.
The chair balancing act is commanding, while the two contortionists twist their bodies so much that it’s hard to believe they can really do that – but they can, and do. The aerial hoop is fast and furious and I wonder how on earth she does that so quickly, hanging by a neck, or a heel on a spinning hoop so far above the ground. Another hoop act has a fearsomely fit lady doing the hula hoop like you have never seen, with up to six on the go on various parts of the body all at the same time. All I could think of was how much core strength she must have! And on the unicycle, the rider spins and holds and balances his brave female partner with gay abandon, all the while riding or hopping his unicycle around the stage.
These heart-stopping acts are beautifully balanced by the delicious combination of all ensemble pieces. The opening act Charivari is vibrant, eye-catching and beautiful, showcasing the incredible Bataclan, with the band and the very talented singers sitting in the top section. This clever contraption transforms several times during the show, and sits underneath a very impressive canopy of drapes that are the size of clouds and can be ominous, dreamy and thematic. Then there is the Skeleton Dance, loud and with slightly voodoo-ish tones.
The three clowns are a big part of the show, bring two people up from the crowd over the course of the night. These interactions are always funny and there is a strange feeling of ‘pick me no don’t pick me!” when they come seeking victims.
At the beginning, woven throughout the show and at the end, we have The Innocent, a boy with a kite taken on a magical ride by The Trickster.

What I Loved
I admit it – I love it all because I love that Cirque always make you feel like you have seen something other-worldly and magical. No one comes away from a Cirque du Soleil show unhappy. But, if I had to nominate one moment – it would be one part of the Teeterboard, where you see what they are about to do and think – no – they can’t do that. And they do.

Booking information
KOOZA Cirque du Soleil is on in Sydney until 6 November, will open in Brisbane on 24 November, 2016 and opens in Melbourne 20 January 2017. Perth dates will be released later in the year.