As you know from reading my blog, it has become sort of a tradition for one of the more recent Cirque du Soleil shows to appear in the holiday programming of Arte TV, our go-to Franco-German cultural channel, every year. This year we got Kurios – Cabinet de Curiosités which launched officially early this year. I only now had time to catch up and watched it online after it originally aired on Christmas.
As much as I’ve always been a fan of the Cirque and still am, I tend to see things a little more critical as I’m getting older. Inevitably not every show can be a hit and to everyone’s liking as new themes are explored and the performances built around them, but the wave of Steampunk-ish/ 1920s Retro shows in the last few years is not necessarily my kind of thing. The gothic/ Art Nouveau style, the freaky contraptions, the drab colors, the strange costumes and even men with mustaches aren’t really up my alley and make it difficult to get into the mood. It’s a strange trend and I much prefer the zany and wacky or baroque stylings of some other shows. The video recording having been color graded in a similar way with lots of brown-ish and green accents doesn’t help, either (it’s no doubt much more colorful in the real world).
Anyway, as far as this one goes it seems at least there’s some sophistication and prowess in the performances themselves. I’m not going to take the overexcited audience of this recording cheering even at “simple” stunts as a measure of the show’s quality, but some acts are indeed quite adrenaline-inducing. The first half is a bit too slow for my taste, but the second noticeably amps up the wow factor with some very speedy, exciting stuff and an almost poetic finger theater piece.
The music is unfortunately very forgettable. It really sounds like some “tried & true” standard chords and riffs from older shows have been thrown in the cobbler and remixed with some syllable-based swing style chanting thrown in here and there. Not a single theme truly sticks. You can literally have the show run all day and still not remember a single note in the evening.
Once again I’d totally watch the show for real, given how rare opportunities are to do so, but regardless, it still strikes me as a perhaps not the greatest work of the Cirque. All the fancy design work and technical finesse can’t disguise the absence of a consistent story line and heart, things that made e.g. Varekai or OVO so enjoyable. It indeed feels like what the name suggests – a cabinet of curiosities or even partially a freak show. Interesting to look at for a while, but leaving you with a slightly uneasy feeling even after you have left.