Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana

Zarkana's press release describes the show as "an acrobatic rock opera that blends circus arts with the surreal to create a world where physical virtuosity rubs shoulders with the strange." Sound familiar? I couldn't help but think of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, which fails as both a musical (doesn't have a compelling story or music) and a Cirque du Soleil-type spectacular (the acrobatics are too few and far between). Zarkana even has a scene that takes place on a spiderweb, so comparisons are inevitable. If you're into the adrenaline rush that comes from seeing performers in potentially dangerous situations, I'd go with Zarkana, where you get more stunts per dollar spent than at Spider-Man.

Zarkana, now open at Radio City Music Hall, was written and directed by film and theater director Francois Girard (The Red Violin) and features a cast of more than 75. Cirque shows usually have a theme and in this one, there's a magician named Zark (Paul Bisson) who shows up a lot to sing about love (Nick Littlemore's score is appropriately loud and anthemic), but the individual scenes don't really connect. But Cirque du Soleil is about the spectacle, not the story, and boy do they do that well. Some of the most memorable scenes are "Rope Duet," a lovely dance in the air between Di Wu and Jun Guo (Debra Brown and Jean-Jacques Pillet are credited with choreography, Florence Pot with acrobatic performance design) and one of the quieter moments in the show, and "Wheel of Death," in which Ray Navas Velez and Rudy Navas Velez perform stunning acrobatics on a moving wheel.

There are too many clowns for my personal taste, but costume designer Alan Hranitelj, set and props designer Stephane Roy, and image content designer Raymond St-Jean offer such an overload of colors and images, that I had plenty to take in while I waited for those scenes to pass.

Photo credit: Alan Hranitelj

1 comment:

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