Cirque du Soleil Kooza: A Brief And Overpriced Review

So, last night (July 1st), I went to see Cirque du Soleil: Kooza, currently playing at Marymoor Park in Redmond, just east of Seattle.  I went with my 9-year-old daughter, as the tickets were my Father’s Day present.  It was the best Father’s Day present I’ve ever gotten, and yet it was also the most expensive for me, due to the ABOMINABLE PRICE GOUGING.  Let me say now that the HORRENDOUS PRICE-GOUGING did not in anyway detract from the show itself, which was more incredibly freaking awesome than the human brain can tolerate.  I recommend buying the DVD of the performance, because there’s no way you’ll be able to remember all of the unbelievable feats of acrobatics and gymnastics that you’re going to see.  You will, however, have no problem remembering the TERRIFYING PRICE-GOUGING.

Before I talk about the show itself, let me take a few minutes to discuss the RELENTLESS PRICE-GOUGING that occurred every step of the way, from parking to seating.  In fact, I’ll just give you an itemized list:

  1. Parking that was less than half a mile away from the door: $15 (Dear Downtown Seattle:  I will not complain about your high parking lot prices ever again for a long time for at least a month.)
  2. One hot dog that was clearly the runt of the litter, one large popcorn, one “souvenir cup” orange Fanta: $16.20
  3. One souvenir program that was only 1/2 advertisements: $13
  4. One hat ($19, but it was a really cute hat for my daughter), one DVD of a previous Kooza performance ($25,) two buttons ($1 each), one pencil ($2): including tax, $51
  5. Gummi Bears, Peanut M&Ms, 20 oz. Minute Maid Pink Lemonade: $12
  6. Gas getting there and back: $12 (I can’t blame them for that one, though)

So, if you’re keeping track, I’ve already spent $109.20, thanks to the GODAWFUL PRICE-GOUGING, and haven’t even seen the show yet.  I spent nearly as much as was spent for the tickets.  I swear, going to see DMB at the Gorge is actually cheaper (including gas), but let’s see those guys do high-wire acts.  I haven’t had a date that expensive since the one that earned me a daughter, and even then only if the price is adjusted for all subsequent costs.

Okay, enough about the MULE-CHOKING PRICE GOUGING. On to the show itself.

After the PRICE-GOUGING THAT MADE BABY JESUS CRY, we found our seats and waited for the show to begin.  Clowns and performers did various sketches in and with the crowd while we waited for the show to begin; one gave my daughter a balloon sceptre with a heart on top that was very cute (and free, which made the DANGEROUSLY VIRULENT PRICE GOUGING a little easier to take).  They even chided members of the audience that were late arriving (“Eight o’clock looks like THIS!” said one clown, spreading his arms in mimicry of a clock.)  Then the show began.

Kooza is the story of a young, innocent clown, who is just trying to fly his kite and having no luck when a Trickster appears (in the most awesome pimp suit imaginable) and uses his powerful wand to whisk the boy away to Kooza, a land of many mysterious and magnificent wonders.  The Trickster takes the boy to meet the King and his two clowns (one of whom has a leg-humping addiction) and see the many sights of Kooza.

Where to begin?  The dancers/tumblers were great in their own right, but warm-ups for what followed.  The band and the singers performed excellently, and I may be in love with one of the singers.  Let me also mention now that the costumers for this show deserve every praise that can be heaped upon their heads; the costumes were always elaborate, always stunning, and eye-catching without being distracting.  They were as fantastic and colourful as the world they were supposed to represent, and I fervently hope the costumers get their fair share of the CORONARY-INDUCING PRICE GOUGING money.

The first jaw-dropping, eyes-widening, heart-stopping moments for me, though, came with the contortionists, two ladies who are either quadruple-jointed or do not actually have bones.  I didn’t think human bodies could be bent that way even once, let alone repeatedly, and still survive; I do believe that, during their performance, several chiropractors fainted.  The part that sticks out most in my mind is one of the ladies, who I may also have fallen in love with, doing the familiar breakdance move “The Helicopter,” in which a person rotates their legs in the air from side to side while also rolling their upper body on the ground.  Imagine that, but imagine the upper part of the body not moving at all, laying fixed upon the ground as the legs spin around and even touch the ground in what appears to be a demented, but fascinating, lower-body tarantella, pivoting 360 degrees at the spine.  Seriously, get the DVD, because my feeble description does not do it justice.

This act was followed by the trapeze artist, a lady who also claimed a fair stake in my romantic future by sheer dint of having far more testicular fortitude than I ever could possess.  My daughter assured me that she could do some of the moves this lady did, and I’m sure she could given her gymnastics training, but as a father I could never allow her to try until cybernetic replacement body parts become widely available.

Next came the unicycle duo, about whom I will say this:  any man who can ride a unicycle in a steady circle while spinning a woman about his head and shoulders is a man I will never, ever f@$% with.  Not even if he was directly responsible for the APOCALYPTIC PRICE GOUGING.

The last act of the first half was the double high-wire act, and, as any good high-wire act should make happen, this one stopped my heart a few times.  It’s one thing to stand still on a high wire with a pole to help your balance; it’s quite another to be the guy who has to leapfrog over the first guy and land on your feet.  (He blew it the first time and spun around the rope, but nailed it the second.  I often wondered if the “mistakes” were intentional and designed to heighten the tension; if so, they worked very very well.) And it’s another thing all together to be the guy that has to stand on a chair balanced on a pole held up by two people riding bicycles that are balanced on the tightrope.  That caused some breathless moments too.

At the end of this, the innocent naive clown gets hold of the Trickster’s wand, and manages to use its power in the exact wrong way; as the Trickster laughs maniacally, the world of Kooza is plunged into darkness, and the first half ends.

I should mention that between the acts, while the stage crew is doing setups and such, or even just to fill breaks, the King and his jesters are on stage, performing hilarious acts of silliness and performing magic tricks with the audience.  The balloon-gifting clown also reappears, being pursued by the police (who would also be wise to investigate the CRIME-AGAINST-HUMANITY PRICE GOUGING going on outside); there is also a pickpocket/magician providing entertainment as well, when he is not being pursued by the police.

Second half.  Kooza has been plunged into a dark, nightmare world; the King and his jesters are chased away by an army of rats and the dancers/tumblers, brightly clad in red and white in the first half, are now dressed as skeletons with an awesome fashion sense and led by a Skeleton King in a pimp suit every bit as awesome as the Trickster’s, but a lot more sparkly.  After some dancing and tumbling, we finally come to the act that truly took my breath away banished all thoughts of THE PRICE GOUGING MOMMA WARNED YOU ABOUT:  The Wheel Of Death.

The Wheel Of Death is actually two wheels, joined by struts and suspended around a suspended floating axis.  The wheels are hollow, allowing someone to stand inside of each as they rotate, and you’ll come to realize it is their motion that dictates the revolutions of the wheel.  Then you’ll forget about science the first time you see them jump inside of the wheels as they rotate and realize they could very easily fall to a messy death.  It’s an incredible feat of balance and motion and rotation that is only matched in spectacle by the point at which they stand on top on the wheels, riding them around and jumping rope on them in a heart-stopping, breathtaking, jaw-dropping, eye-popping, physics-defying display of gymnastics and. . .hell with it, just buy the DVD already.  It will really just blow your mind.

The Hoop Mistress came next, and really, seeing a woman that’s able to rotate several hoops around different parts of her body at different speeds is just incredible.  She’d make one hell of a dance partner, and I may be in love with her as well.  At the very least, I want her to be my date to the next hula-hoop contest I go to, and if you thought you were hot s#!^ for getting 1000 spins on Wii Fit, she’ll make you feel really really bad.

After the hoops, the chair-balancing act, and I have to give that guy a lot of credit for both being willing to get up on a 30-foot-high stack of chairs and for wearing a sumo diaper while being the size of Bruce Lee.  He was good, but just not as breathtaking as some of the other acts were.

Last, but certainly not least, was the teeter-totter board, which was a see-saw put to gymnastic use.  Tumblers were launched onto pyramids, off of pyramids, through the air. . .and as difficult as that looked, imagine people doing it on stilts and landing standing up – on stilts.  It was, well, awesome.  Their costumes, it should be noted, reflect the brighter colours of the first half of the show, signifying, I think, that the darkness wrought by the innocent clown is finally wearing off.

At the end, the young clown bids farewell to Kooza and returns to his own world, albeit with a new crown, courtesy of the King, and a new, much more colourful kite that he now can actually get to fly.  Maybe a little thin on story, but on performance, there’s no beating it.

Kooza was awesome, incredible, fantastic, unbelievable, smooth, breathtaking. . .every adjective I can throw at it.  It was the best circus of any sort I’ve ever seen, and one of the best parts is that there wasn’t a single mistreated animal within miles of the place (unless you count the contortionists’ spines).  If you have a minimum $200 to spare, and don’t mind GIANT ALBACORE PRICE GOUGING, I heartily, fully, and fervently recommend going to see Cirque du Soleil: Kooza.

VS – 7.2.10

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