Review: Kurios by Cirque du Soleil

We booked our tickets for the Cirque du Soleil Kurios show a few months ago as something to look forward to at the start of 2023, when Christmas felt like a distant memory and it was still cold and dark. Even though I was excited to go to Cirque du Soleil, I was just as much looking forward to a week in London with friends which felt like something we hadn’t done for a really long time. I haven’t been to many circus shows, so whilst I was looking forward to it I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Kurios is a steam-punk themed show, based around the concept of a Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s set inside a past version of the future, where art meets scientific change and it feels a bit like anything is possible. The show itself first came out in 2014 but the European premier is currently on in London.

Kurios is currently on at the Royal Albert Hall, which I was excited to go to as I had never been inside the venue before. We had seats on the second tier and were the back two seats of a box. It felt very fancy to be sitting in a box! It even had to be opened for us by the steward when we arrived – an experience I’ve never previously had at a theatre. It was a little bit stranger sharing it with people that we didn’t know, especially when our friends were in the box next door (again sharing with people they didn’t know in front) but those were the tickets which were available at the time we booked. Even though we were definitely off to one side, the show was well designed for the theatre and a lot of the acts rotated so that it didn’t matter at which angle you were sitting.

The acts themselves were incredible! I thought it would be pretty spectacular but was also relieved that even though my heart was in my mouth for a few of them, there were clearly lots of safety precautions in place. Anyone above a certain height was attached to a wire, and there were always spotters for anything that involved an element of flight.

The person sat in front of me commented in the interval that he was expecting it to be more spectacular, and I was amazed. I think the reason some people might think that is simply because the performers are so good at what they do, they make it look easy. However, the second half of Kurios definitely took it up a notch further in terms of spectacular acrobatics. Everything that you saw was just as impressive as the last act, so it’s really difficult to pick a show highlight or favourite section. There were some ‘filler’ moments where the sets were being adapted, but I think this was needed for the audience just as much as the performers. Two hours of jaw-dropping acrobatics would be too much, and it provided a bit of contrast to the high adrenaline sections.

One thing that I hadn’t expected, but was very impressed by, was the live singing and music. Throughout the show there was a singer, sometimes more visible and sometimes kept very much to the fringes of the performance, who was quite often accompanied by musicians. To be honest, it might have gone unnoticed by a lot of the audience given the focus on the main performers, but to me it added a little bit extra.

As you would expect, the theme played out through the staging and the costumes. It was nice that some of the scenery was already visible when you arrived at your seat, to help set the stage for what you were about to see. Before the performance began, there were also a few performers who were posted at different locations in the auditorium, helping to bring the show to life before it actually started. There were some particularly clever bits of staging that I enjoyed: one was a mirrored dinner party and the other involved projections onto a hot air balloon. I don’t want to say too much in case you’re planning to see it yourself, but it was a very cleverly crafted production.

Whilst usually a Musical would be top of my theatre list to go and see, I would definitely return to a Cirque du Soleil show. I’m not sure I’d feel the need to see Kurios again (although I wouldn’t pass up the tickets if someone offered them to me) but I’d love to see another one. It felt like being transported to another world for the afternoon! It’s also worth picking up a programme. I love collecting programmes from the different shows I go to and I nearly didn’t simply because it was quite pricey, but it does actually explain the concept behind each of the characters and helps you to get a bit extra out of the show.

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