Step right up ladies and gentlemen!

The circus has come a long way from slapstick clowns and palatable freakshows. Take Cirque du Soleil’s latest production, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities for example. It’s a spell-bounding, steampunk production that makes full use of modern technology while retaining the true essence of what a circus ought to be: entertaining wild fantasies. And Sydneysiders have until Sunday 29 December 2019 to watch it!

Written and directed by Michel Laprise, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is a tale in which time comes to a complete stop, transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where everything is possible. In this realm set in the latter half of the 19th century, reality is quite relative indeed as our perception of it is utterly transformed.

The show is housed under a big top with a cast of 47 artists from 17 countries. But this amphitheatre is a little more than poles, ropes and weatherproof fabric. As well as the necessary air conditioning, you’ll find strategically placed speakers around the room to give verisimilitude to each and every performance. It is surround sound that generates an unreal reality.

First, we must give kudos to the finely detailed choreography. The acrobatic trainers consist of Yaman Okur, Susan Gaudreau, Andrea Ziegler and Ben Potvin, with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui leading the dance moves. The opening act is where the choreography shines, welcoming 47 performers who whizz and whirl across the centre ring doing all sorts of eccentric things in tandem with each other. It’s organised chaos. Where to look? One cannot know. But everywhere you look is just as exciting. This is also true of wherever your sitting; whether it’s front and centre, to the left or to the right. Throughout the show, you will notice how succinct everything seems, but how casual it is performed. It looks easy until you begin to really think about.

But it’s not the quirky choreography that brings the crowd, it’s the edge-of-your-seat acts. Imagine a flying bicycle with a flexible woman contorting her way around it in the air. How about out of this world acrobatics that reaches new heights. Or even a wacky dinner party trick that truly challenges the imagination, and gravity.

But don’t mistake it for being too serious, Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios balances the edginess of their serious acts with plenty of down-to-earth cheekiness. An act that comes to mind is The Invisible Circus, which sounds bizarrely absurd but is performed so enchantingly well. The ring leader stages the entire act that’s matched with perfectly timed sounds, lighting, and prop movement all to captivate the children in the audience and bring smiles to the adults who know better.

In fact, their adept usage of technology is strongly noted in one particular performance which they call Hand Theatre. It’s essentially a mini mise-en-scène with hands as actors. A small handheld camera captures the miniature performance which is then projected onto the sides of a hot air balloon. Georges Méliès, eat your heart out!

To bring the entire ensemble together in unison, Kurios’ costumes conjure up old classic movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and current renditions like Hugo. The costume designer, Philippe Guillotel, is a French visual artist with extraordinary talent. Whether it’s chic costumes of the aristocratic 1800s or gilled bodysuits laced with quirky designs. Or even a wacky inventor who’s looking for another world. It’s a kafkaesque concoction.

And finally, it’s the music that puts the icing on the cake. You may find it hard to stop those feet from tapping. Composers Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard) and Raphaël Beau have whirled up a roaring 20s meets the circus vibe. Nothing else could match steampunk so perfectly. It’s a swinging circus sensation that envelopes the auditorium.

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is a spectacular escape into a wild fantasy land which plays havoc on reality. It’s a captivating production that is a must-see for anyone who’s curious enough for you will kick yourself silly if you miss it. Kurios will premiere in Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter until Sunday 29 December before continuing their tour around Australia.

For more information and to book your tickets, visit Cirque du Soleil.