Saturday, August 31, 2013

Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil - All Types of Crazy

Zarkana cover art (Source:
Cirque's annual music offering for 2013 is Zarkana, an attempt at a rock-opera/psychadelic/world/pop/whatever recording. There are so many things wrong with this recording and there are so many different types of crazy to be discovered.

Zarkana is poorly composed and extremely over-produced. Songs amble around with no discernible melody or development, and many that do have those elements have been extremely compromised in losing their dramatic intensity and vibrancy during the transfer from live production to this recording. Too many songs develop a fine structure then have elements added seemingly from random, from improvisations of instruments disrupting the flow to elecronica breakdowns. It's frustrating since several of their live counterparts are impeccable - here they are awkward, jarring, and nothing special. Like previous Cirque recordings that have aimed to be considered heavy rock, Zarkana's instrumentation lacks the edge and rawness that so many great rock albums have - it's too dreamy and synth heavy, and too psychedelic to be taken seriously. The concept of this recording isn't really realised, and majority of the content isn't anything interesting.

Still, it's dependable on a Cirque du Soleil record that there is always at least a handful of interesting songs. 'Zarwaq' is a unique splice of tribal chanting and percussive beats, with unfortunate interjections of synthesisers, whereas 'Asteraw' feels diluted from an array of twinkly effects and random interjections, but has a vibrant and memorable melody. The mystique of 'Rae' is ruined by a bizarre spoken word interval and omission of the stunning bugle horn, but otherwise is an entrancing amalgam of voice and piano. The jewel of the album is 'Eridanus', which has an infectious chorus, and unlike most of the record has amazing mixing with exceptional clarity. It's an excellent song and shows that Cirque du Soleil's repertoire is still expanding and conquering new genres.

The remainder of the album variates between remarkably beige ('Tourago/Guiram', 'Gienah'), to embarrassingly weird ('Tarienter/The Archer', 'Crysococca') to horrifyingly bad ('Caph', 'Jarseate'). It's a painful reminder that Cirque kicked artistic excellence out of it's view long ago and are primarily interested in settling for the average.

Seeing as Zarkana was originally conceived as a rock opera on Broadway, this is probably the one time where it would have been acceptable for a release with English lyrics. Instead, we are left with imaginary lyrics that seem to be an after-thought of a scrambled attempt to change Zarkana's image. The result is a horrible mishmash of sloppy pseudo-English vowels with no apparent rhyme or structure, sometimes with an odd English lyric thrown in. The record is sprinkled with unpronounceable and upsettingly random titles that are all kinds of crazy ('Caph', 'Crysococca', 'Zawraq').

The recording of Zarkana isn't great. The mixing and production is fairly poor, the majority of the songs are unappealing, and . There are some likeable tracks, but the majority of the album isn't worth a recommendation. Overall I'd recommend just purchasing 'Eridanus' on iTunes and giving the rest of the album a miss.

Cirque du Soleil 'Zarkana' is available from their online boutqiue and on Available on physical CD and digital download. Preview the entire album for free on Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana official website.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pokemon Live! by Temple Theatre Company

Pokémon Live! is Temple Theatre Company's debut production, and it's awesome just how this unsavoury and crusty execution managed to entertain the audience. I couldn't control my excitement for seeing the show - I grew up with the songs, I knew all the characters and the storyline, and I understood all the intertexual humour. And because of all those reasons, I was willing to forgive almost every disastrous aspect of the show and appreciate it in its horrifying glory.

Ash (Adwan Dickson) and his friends Misty (Rhiannon Moushall) and Brock (Thomas Pitiris) are on their latest adventure, which is to win the new Diamond Badge from a new gym leader. Unknown to them, the Diamond Badge is a ruse concocted by Giovanni (Zane Weber) and his minions Team Rocket (John Vizcay-Wilson, Xanthe Jones, Phoebe Ballard). Team Rocket have captured Ash's mum Delia (Georgina Purdie) and Professor Oak (Patrick Aiken), and plan on capturing Pikachu (Elizabeth Witt) so that the new super Pokémon MechaMew2 can learn all the known battle moves, and allow Giovanni to take over the world.
Pitiris as Brock, Dickson as Ash and
Moushall as Misty (Source: Facebook).

For a show that was conceived as a multi-million dollar spectacle, the production value is seriously lacking and in some areas hilariously bad. The music, lyrics and book are puerile and banal while the directing is shambolic, however with material like this, it's very difficult to not make that entertaining - the fact that the team admitted they set out of make something that veered on 'so bad it's good' certainly prevails as a victory. My friend next to me's mouth hung open in sheer horror while I wailed with laughter. There are backouts that have no function, in some instances where NOTHING on stage even changes and the audience are just left in the dark listening to random instrumental reprises. There are pointless dance breakdowns where the story doesn't progress and there is no insight given to character. The lighting rarely does anything emotive and seem to serve as a homage to schizophrenia, and the sound is poorly mixed, usually being too soft but occasionally achingly loud.

All of those elements fed directly into the enjoyment of piece and to top it off there are several great aspects of the production too - the actual performers made the most of their ridiculous material and were clearly having a fantastic time, and the cast was sprinkled with veterans of Brisbane musical theatre with all being apt singers and several members pretty good dancers. Comedic timing was excellent and scenes flavoured with random elements, such as entering on scooters or 'falling' into holes, were glorious. It felt like, seeing as the show was noted suitable for audience under 15, there could have been more tounge-in-cheek comments, and the fact that Pikachu was scantily dressed set itself up for some jokes that just never happened. Regardless, references to the games were fantastic - stepping into the eyesight of trainers, the music, but in particular the voice over at the start is one of the most ingenious introductions and executions of house etiquette I've ever heard. Certain songs were just stellar - 'Misty's Song' was hilariously inappropriate, 'PokéRap' a brilliant opener, and the ridiculously flamboyant 'Double Trouble' were glorious.

I'm amused that I enjoyed Pokémon Live! for the same reasons I didn't enjoy Next to NormalPokémon Live! is probably one of the stupidest things I've ever seen, but Temple Theatre Company has completely embraced this puerile work and transformed it into a glorious trainwreck which was hilarious and completely enthralling for 90 minutes. Hopefully this ambition has paid off and the troupe can now afford some real props, costumes and material to perform. But for what it was - wow. My childhood came to life, albeit a little more sexy than what it was.

Temple Theatre Company's Pokemon Live! played at Brisbane Arts Theatre from April 23rd - April 27th.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oscar Theatre Company's Next to Normal [*]

Next to Normal artwork (Source: Facebook). 
Oscar Theatre Company effectively brings Off-Broadway to Brisbane. When they announced in May last year that they were bringing Next to Normal to QPAC for its Queensland Premier, a lot of people were really excited for it. There's a lot of things I don't actually like about the text itself - the content of the text is sincere but its delivery in the storyline comes across as a bit pandering, and the score isn't great. But beyond all of that, Oscar's Next to Normal is a fairly good vision of the original text, with a good cast that only narrowly miss the punch of the roles.

Next to Normal is about a dysfunctional family where the mother, Diane Goodman (Alice Barbery), is suffering from an intense strand of schizophrenia which causes her to imagine her dead son Gabrielle Goodman (Matt Crowley) is still alive. Her husband (Chris Kellet) desperately tries to save their family by taking her to various doctors, hoping that a newly recommended Dr. Madden (James Gauci) holds the answer they're looking for. Meanwhile, her brilliant but neglected daughter Natalie (Siobhan Kranz) begins a self-destructive relationship with loveable stoner Henry (Tom Oliver) to distract her from her family's unusual situation.

While the cast are fair at acting and have good voices, only a few of them are exceptional in their roles. For the most part the punch is a bit lacking due to their vocal demands - Alice Barbery and Chris Kellet are great but both lack the power and energy to hit the powerhouse mark that their roles provide, and although they're both fine most of the time they often waft into using their head voices and the score looses a lot of drive and its blistering ferocity. They are better actors than singers, although the reverse can be said for Matt Crowley, who is fine in the role vocal wise but occasionally looks frigid and sort of kills the momentum at crucial moments by looking a little ridiculous so immobile. James Gauci is excellent for his combined total of 20 minutes on stage, but Tom Oliver and Siobhan Kranz are easily the standouts. Oliver becomes the most adorable character on stage, and the only thing that really detracts from Kranz's interpretation is how insufferable her character is - it's not edgy saying 'fuck' anymore, it's just irritating (and sometimes laughable). Their final scene was the only moment in the entire piece that really moved me.

I hadn't heard the score of the show before viewing it because I'm not a fan of rock musicals - while Next to Normal isn't an exception, it's still reasonably interesting. Tom Kitt's score is loud and toe-tapping but the drums come across as kitschy in a vain attempt to be edgy, and the small ensemble usually doesn't manage to have enough variation (also, apparently the violinist didn't tune their instrument before beginning the show either). I can remember one song, Super Boy and the Invisible Girl, because my friend yodelled it in the car last week. Some of Brian Yorkey's lyrics are a bit insipid, although there are a few gems and occasionally the dialogue is quite profound, which would probably are enough to warrant it's Pulitzer win. The story didn't really speak to me, and how the whole subject was handled felt a bit pandering, trying to be relevant and edgy but failing by introducing an optimistic ending which cheapened the whole experience.
The Goodman Family (Crowley, Barbery, Kellet and Kranz)
(Source: Facebook).

Timothy Wallace's set is frustrating since while it has an interesting concept its execution is a bit clumsy and much of what happens on the upper level is lost on the lower audience and the only view is of disembodied heads moving around (though I anticipate it would look better from the balcony). There is no exact definition of space either, with characters entering the house from about eighty thousand different entrances. The Cremorne Theatre is ideal for its intimacy but the small space seemed restrictive for creating and maintaing an authentic dramatic universe. The sound design was fine, some characters a little to quiet in some scenes but nothing much to complain about. As usual, Jason Glenwright's solid lighting compliments the action perfectly, occasionally being more emotive than any other aspect on stage.

A lot of people have blubbered about how they cried multiple times during Oscar Theatre Company's Next to Normal, and although I can appreciate why they love the show it's just not my thing. There is a lot to admire in this very ambitious staging of Next to Normal but absence of energy combined with my dislike of the score rendered the show a bit unremarkable for me. What is remarkable is the effort from the cast that really give it their best and only a few narrowly don't deliver. If you're a fan of the score and the show, then the majority of my criticism is irrelevant - it's an enjoyable evening and musical passionates and even casual fans will enjoy seeing this piece presented for the first time in Queensland.

Tickets for Oscar Theatre Company's Next to Normal are $39 - $58, and is showing at QPAC's Cremorne Theatre until May 4th. Duration of approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission. Book by visiting QPAC's website.

Monday, April 15, 2013


I had the pleasure of playing at Room 60 last week. Tick that off the bucket list.

At the Roost Launch last October a violinist jumped on staged and improvised some wretched jazz for about 10 minutes. I was absolutely awed at how bizarre it was, and vowed that when I returned from overseas I would perform on the stage in some capacity. I found a new love for the cello and, with a lot of inspiration and modelling from Jorane, devised a 25 minute set which would involve me simultaneously playing cello and singing.
My favourite shot that Chris did.

There was a bit of preparation to be put into the event. I went about recording several demos - mostly they were covers by artists like Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga and Sarah Slean, but I also wrote a few original works. Once I felt reasonably happy with the results, I contacted Room 60 and got in touch with Leila Cosgrove. Leila organises all the music and was intrigued by the idea, and was very enthusiastic. I was asked to send through a bio and a promo shot, so I got my friend Christopher King to shoot some shots in an abandoned house and in a large green field. The bio was more difficult, because I have no credentials when it comes to music. I ended up blubbering something about how I was a 'sound designer' and wanted to experiment with jazz. That's another thing - people ask me what genre I play and I have no idea what to say to them. Once sent through, Leila confirmed I would be playing at 7pm on April 11th. Phew!

So once I had a date locked in, over a few months I learnt the basics of the cello again and learnt some of my favourite songs which I thought the cello could pull off on its own. It's interesting that people are so amazed by the concept of singing while playing, since cello isn't that different to guitar. It certainly has a deeper, richer timbre, and it's unusual to play with the bow - but it's also possible to strum the strings as if it were a guitar, which is a staple in most of my arrangements. It's restrictive, since I feel there's only so much you can do with it. It's not possible to play beautiful melodies while you're on your own, and much of the accompaniment sounds too sporadic and empty if there isn't always a lot of noise coming out of it. But it's relatively unheard of in Brisbane, and people seemed to like the idea enough.

I ended up playing six songs that were all covers - four pieces by Jorane (Musique Pour Gabrielle, Stay, Red Mountains and The Cave) plus one by Lady Gaga (Paparazzi) and Lior (This Old Love). I had written a few songs myself, but I felt that it would be more fun to play covers that people knew, and also it would be useful to gauge how feasible it would be to do something along the lines of it again. Predictably, Paparazzi and This Old Love were the favourites, The Cave and Pour Gabrielle were a bit too bizarre for people, but Stay and Red Mountains were lovely. I think the key is to play simple pieces (in English), and not to take it too seriously. Paparazzi got a lot of laughs, and during Stay the barmaid kept on opening the door to the fridge, so there was some cute comedic timing while I waited for it to shut.
The only shot of the night - courtesy of Ellen.

The response was staggering for me. So many people said things like 'I loved it and can't wait for the next one' or 'I'll be there for the next one', which makes me wonder what the future of me playing is. I have a lot of French pieces I want to sing, but I think the language barrier would restrict people's enjoyment. There are also a lot of gorgeous songs I want to play which require looping and layers, which I don't know how to do live. And many more would need more people other than me, and I hate depending on other people. That, and I'm doing this for fun - NOT for my career. So what's the point . . . hmm . . . ?

The best part of the evening for me was the wonderful turn-out of the audience. People who I had met with over the years, people I am and had worked with, family, friends and future friends were all there - that really meant a lot to me. It was very humbling that people had taken the time out of their evenings to come down for such a short event, and it made me feel so warm and fuzzy :] . I think the premise, length and venue were perfect, and the atmosphere and people there couldn't have been much better. It reminded me how much I loved singing and performing - maybe I'll try it again some time.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

All Together Now's 'Oh the Humanity'

Emily & Dave Burton and Kate Murphy are All Together Now (Source: Empire Theatre).
For a bunch of reasons I jumped in a car with some friends to travel to Toowoomba to catch All Together Now's staging of Oh the Humanity, and for a bunch of reasons, I wanted to share a few thoughts on it. The collaborators and actors on this production are stars, this is a new theatre collective, but most importantly, their take on this show is best I've ever seen and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it - and I love talking about things I love.

For those not familiar with the text, Oh the Humanity by Will Eno is a collection of five blisteringly sardonic short scenes which mix hilarity and tragedy behind the profound uncertainty experienced in life. Eno's writing is stylised with desolate humour and painful observations on things that you'd rather not discuss including loneliness, grief, and the involuntary passing of time. All Together Now's staging of Oh the Humanity is vivacious, inspired and unlike any staging I've ever seen before.

As a collective, All Together Now function with a wonderful balance and perfect chemistry. All three actors show a fantastic sense of comedic timing, while also being able to channel the hopeless anguish with such incredible sensitivity. All their character choices are so creative, my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much. There are moments of brilliance through out - there is an unfortunately strong accented, overly optimistic spokesperson, a defeated and demasculinsed coach whos failure is a mixture of awing and endearing, and an electric but slightly harrowing breakdown between a married couple who can't recall where they're heading to. MATILDA AWARD WINNING Emily Burton, David Burton and Kate Murphy are uniformly ravishing - their pacing and mannerisms give such colour to all characters and they radiate excellence through their energy.

There are a few elements of the production which are unavoidably difficult, but redeem themselves by their necessity. Transitions are clunky and a bit long, and music has little purpose other than to move transitions along - although, opening with the Universal Studios Fanfare is somehow hilarious, as is ending with an extract from Turandot. The lighting design is simplistic with only a few gobos to add effect and emphasis on the equally simplistic, but enchanting set. Chairs of various size hung from the ceiling doing not much other than looking fantastical but seem to draw the piece together in the final scene.

With only minor nitpicks on some very minor technical issues, I loved this production. It's a shame this gem is in Toowoomba so most people won't get to see it, and it's also a shame stuff like this is so hard to see in Brisbane - but I'm lucky and so glad that I did get to see it (I'd like to see The Country by Martin Crimp next team, okay?). With a wonderful ensemble of actors with great chemistry totally reinventing my perceptions of the roles, this staging has eclipsed every other production I've seen of Oh the Humanity. 

Tickets for All Together Now's Oh the Humanity are $18 - $24, and is showing at Empire Theatre until March 23rd. Duration of approximately 1 hour. Book by visiting Empire Theatre's website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Trip to Devil's Bridge

During my trip to Caridgan this year I managed to make it to Devil's Bridge. The bridge is located in a small hamlet of the same name, about 20 minutes outside Aberystwyth. In addition to the original bridge which was built in the 10th century, there are two additional bridges on top of it - one built in the 18th century, the other in 1901. I've been wanting to visit the location since I was was really young, since I had read about it and been fascinated by the legend of how it came into existence.

Oldest version of the legend say that during a wild storm, which caused the river to swell to tremendous heights, the old wooden bridge across the gorge was swept away. An Old Woman who was watching over her herd of cows discovered that one was now trapped on another side. As she bemoaned the difficulty of getting it back without the bridge, The Devil appeared with a clap of thunder. He offered to build her a replacement bridge, though he warned her that in exchange for his work, he would be given the first soul to cross it. The Old Woman agreed, and after one night she returned to the spot to find a magnificent stone carved bridge. The Devil appeared again and reminded her of their bargain, at which point the Old Woman threw a loaf of bread across the bridge. Instead of her or her cow crossing the bridge first, a small dog ran across the bridge to collect the bread. Furious that his attempt to cast misfortune on the Old Woman, The Devil descended into the water and left the community at peace (and, I assume, the dog).

Disappointingly, since it sort of detracts from the romance of the tale, there are many of these bridges placed all over Europe. There are about 50 of these Gothic masonry arch bridges in France alone, with many others in Spain, Italy and Switzerland (and even others in the UK). Each of them, however, have a corresponding myth that links them to The Devil. Another myth encompasses all the bridges under a story that a master bridge builder and The Devil were adversaries, who competed with each other to build the bridges all over the world.

Whatever the case, the bridges were a significant technological advancement, and it's true that the masons who worked on these bridges deserved their legendary status after the difficulty of building such structures. Although many new bridges are more ingeniously designed and have a greater impact, these bridges, including the one at Devil's Bridge, were significant for bringing a charming aesthetic to areas and also undoubtedly aiding economic growth due to the accessibility it created among the treacherous and otherwise impossible to navigate terrain.

So about 10 years later I made it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snow, as created by Slava

Artwork of Slava's Snowshow (Source:
My usual mantra concerning clowns are that they are always, at best, a necessary evil. In my experience the humour is low-brow, annoying, and ususally serves as padding to the superior action that goes on stage elsewhere in performance. That said, my friend had told me great things about Slava's Snowshow, and I'd previously seen a segment of the act in Cirque du Soleil's Alegría. I know that since I was never going to see snow in London this year, Slava's Snowshow was probably being the closest thing to living in the real thing.

The chorus of forlorn clowns (Source: Slava's Snowshow).
Concieved and written by Slava Polunin, the piece is a series of sketches that are loosely tied together through various esoteric symbolism and themes of loneliness. The humour of the clowns is surprisingly charming, and very sweet, not relying on the usual toilet humour or slapstick. The talent of the performers is awing, who move with adorable choreography and endearing innocence. There is no real language spoken, and instead choreography and music dictate the mood while the performer's movement and  the audience laugh. Only one or two sketches are devoid of humour, the rest are wonderfully original, endearing and whimsical. Particularly entertaining scenes included a hilariously dramatic, repetitive falling off a seat to Mozart's Requiem and the capsizing of a ship which involves sharks doing floor dives among the mist on stage. The piece de resistance is the finale, after a tender and somewhat sorrowful display an elderly clown causes a thunderous snowstorm which sweeps the space with thousands of cut snowflakes. It really is gorgeous and truly magical, and needs to be lived to be believed.

Clowns in a boat sketch (Source: Wikipedia).
Attention could be easily lost in a large theatre but there is also a fair amount of audience interaction, which is just enchanting. A giant spider web passes over the audience, snow falls and sits among the seats and giant spheres lumber across the space, moved by the hands underneath. It's wonderful to watch, but my issue with the piece was that due to where I was sitting it was impossible to be immersed into the action. The piece is clearly made for smaller theatres, since much of this interaction doesn't reach people sitting in the nosebleed seats. While I had a bunch of awful children sitting behind me, I felt bad that they didn't get to be caught in the grand finale and feel any snow, and likewise, everyone who handled the giant bouncing balls had no sense of space and kept hitting them back to the front.

The lighting is gorgeous and sensual, suitably matching the moods of the sketches on stage. The music is also fitting - simplistic, quirky and sweet, however somewhat occasionally tacky. The use of Carmina Burana in the finale is a bit jarring since it feels like some original scoring that isn't so bombastic could have enhanced the magic even more.

It's slow to take off - and at times I wondered why I was there - but at certain points in the piece there is a wonderful whimsical charm to the piece, and once it draws you in you are kept firmly engaged. If you are going to see the piece, make sure you see it up close and in the middle - staying at the side really removes you from the action and it's somewhat disappointing to be watching the spectacle rather than living it. A lot of things contribute to making this an enchanting piece of theatre, and it's easy to see why so many people have been swept away by it.

Slava's Snowshow performed at the Royal Festival Hall from December 17th - January 7th.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kooza at the Royal Albert Hall

Artwork from Kooza, featuring 'The Trickster' (Source: Group Line).
Talking about Cirque du Soleil is a precarious embarkment these days. My violent love-hate relationship towards the company swings from side to side as a viciously sharpened pendulum, moving like a little boy's favourite yo-yo in the wind on a blustery day. Cirque's annual January engagement this year brings Kooza to the Royal Albert Hall, a show directed by prominent theatre director with many accolades, awards, and experience at directing accomplished multi-million dollar productions ex-clown David Shiner, the mastermind behind Banana Shpeel, who totes the 'art' of clowning to be best thing since sliced bread.

The Innocent. Being Innocent.
It's his thing, yo.
(Source: Cirque du Soleil).
When Kooza opened it was described as "a return to Cirque's roots", which everyone knows is performing without animals and allocating large amounts of stage times to awful clown acts. All in all, Kooza is not as terrible as I was warned it would be - it claims to look at themes of innocence, identity and fear through a barrage of circus acts and a lot of clowning. To some extent it succeeds but a major issue with the show is its nauseating and egregious prominence of clowns, owing to the horrible attempt at making a homage to the 'art'. There are a total of six in the show, which means there is more inane toilet humour and slapstick than any other show in the world. Also, while this show draws Cirque back to its roots, it also falls into the oxymoron that the original Cirque wasn't actually that unique or noteworthy, and it wasn't until almost a decade after its inception that they started their signature fusion of theatre and circus acts which has made them so prominent. But never you mind that - just pay money!

As far as it goes in theatricality, anything is better than Ovo, so while Kooza lacks any serious discussion, its sense of storyline is pretty random, and its mise-en-scène is just a mélange of 'anything goes', it's still somehow enjoyable to watch. The plot focuses on a character called The Innocent (who is, you guessed it, innocent), who is pulled into a "zany kingdom" which is created and ruled by The Trickster (tricky, but also sinister). There's also a bunch of skeletons who turn up for one scene - no one will be able to explain why.

For Kooza, I'm happy to temporarily abandon my insanity and morals, and excuse the quality of the theatrical elements since the acts really blow you away, and there is a distinctly higher calibre of acrobatics and athleticism compared to other Cirque du Soleil productions. Aerial acts including the Highwire and Wheel of Death attracted the biggest applause I've ever heard for Cirque acts, where it was surreal to look around the entire Royal Albert Hall and see everyone clapping furiously. The Mystic Pixies have long departed from the tour, but the trio of tiny Asian women who perform Contortion brought the house down with a similar routine. The two highlights of the evening were the Hoops Manipulation and the Balancing on Chairs. I've wanted to see Irina Akimova's hoops act for years and it was certainly worth the wait (her act is better suited in Delirium, since there was better music and her costume wasn't as hideous), as she spins five hoops while rotating and grinning at the audience, and Yao Deng Bo's serene and languid act shows a mastery of patience and the entire scene is beautifully choreographed. We missed out on the Trapeze, and whoever was managing backstage apparently forgot there is a rotational act (Hand to Hand) that could have replaced it . . .

Akimova's Manipulation act (Source: Tumblr).
I've owned the soundtrack for the show for around five years, and it never dawned on me until I saw the production just how campy the music is. Jean-François Cóté's score is a bizarre fusion of 80's big band, Indian ethnic and pop music, and while certain pieces are beautiful and slow, adding multilayered percussion and REALLY LOUD drums sounds like a gimmick. The main theme, 'L'Innocent' is just . . . wow. It's flaming. It's just the most in your face Cirque score, and I'd have to agree with cynics that usually critics the music since it's very washy material, and with all the kiddies yelling vowels it sounds very childish. Other aspects include Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt's costumes and Florene Cornet's makeup, which are just a clusterfuck of colours and random tassels which blend right into Stéphane Roy's set, a giant bataclan resembling a triple-decker Indian tour bus which is gorgeously revealed.

Despite any criticism, I very much enjoyed the evening, and I think any London theatre viewers who were a bit disillusioned by Totem will enjoy Kooza due to its linearity and superb circus feats. The material performed by clowns is awful, the music is very contrived and the theatricality is lacking, but Kooza has its moments and certainly enchants the audience. At the end of the show the cast get together on stage and yell "Kooza!". Why not?

'Kooza' is also an underwear brand.

Just saying it like it is.

Tickets for Cirque du Soleil's Kooza are £25 - £80, and is showing at The Royal Albert Hall until February 14th. Duration of approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including a 30 minute interval. Book by visiting Cirque du Soleil's website.