Cirque du Soleil: Kurios review

“We would like to thank our partner Air Canada,” announces a “wearyingly jaunty clown” at the start of Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities – Cirque du Soleil’s 35th “world-conquering” spectacular. “Oh no, you think,” said Dominic Maxwell in The Times. Is a certain corporate naffness going to overwhelm the “jaw-dropping skill and bravery of the acrobats”? Fear not. “By the end of this weird and wondrous evening I wanted to thank Air Canada too” – although it would be at the back of a long queue.

Cirque du Soleil has produced a terrific show, infused with a “gently spooky sense of joy”: there are “capering ‘conjoined’ twins”, women in steel-hooped skirts descending from the ceiling, a locomotive that glides onto the stage, and a “mid-air juggler who hurtles towards the ground but keeps on working. And that’s only the opening number.”

The concept holding the evening together is a “steampunk world of retro-futuristic inventions”, said Lyndsey Winship in The Guardian: hot-air balloons and “madcap” Heath Robinson contraptions, rivets, bolts and leather flying goggles. It adds “whimsical character” to the well-oiled Cirque machine. But it’s merely a frame for some genuinely astonishing stunts, grand illusions and acrobatics that make the stomach lurch with “visceral” fear – and the heart leap with “pure joy”.

There is, perhaps, a bit of padding, said Bruce Dessau in the Evening Standard. A white-clad “seeker” oversees proceedings without adding much, and an “invisible circus” section – with objects such as a tightrope moving as if someone is on it – falls a bit flat. But overall, Kurios is a winner, with a less glossily corporate feel than some Cirque shows.

Look out for the moment when a giant hand rolls on and a group of contortionists emerge from it – the prelude to a set piece in which a dinner scene on the stage is miraculously replicated on the Royal Albert Hall’s ceiling. Be warned: you “will spend so much time gazing up in awe you might wake with a stiff neck. But it will be worth it.”

Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 (020-7589 8212). Until 5 March

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