The circus has come to Singapore, but there are no scary clowns or tigers jumping through flaming hoops; or at least, not literally. Running from now to 18 August, KURIOS is the latest show from Cirque du Soleil, the same troupe that brought us ‘Totem’ and ‘Kooza’ at the swirly Big Top near Marina Bay Sands in 2015 and 2017. Michel Laprise, the show’s director, has credits like Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl halftime show and MDNA tour under his belt, but you can bet your popcorn this one’s a lot more fantastical.
KURIOS is set in a steampunk-styled Victorian era where a crazed inventor, The Seeker, is transported to an exciting universe in his personal curio cabinet (Narnia, anyone?) after dozing off in his lab. If you’re familiar with the group, you know what happens next: your everyday reality is flipped upside down to the tune of awe, shock, and a bucketload of anxiety.
The ‘Kurios’ actually refers to the quirky, dysfunctional robots that stray around the ring from time to time, but they are not the main stars of the show, not when there are so many superhumans around. We really want to pick a favourite act, but every one is extraordinary.
Superbly flexible contortionists in iridescent spandex do their thing atop a giant mechanical hand that moves, embodying electric eels in a fluid contortion act. Later, a fearless Aviator uses his small prop plane as a platform for his balancing act, tottering about on nothing more than cylinders and planks. There’s even a cool Matilda moment, so you musical fans can look out for that one.
As you’d expect from any Cirque du Soleil show, music plays a key role in the production. Raphaël Beau’s score features a seven-piece live band and a vocalist who are decked out in steam punk-era garb, and they too come onto the stage on occasion. The recurring theme is particularly captivating, and you can feel the goosebumps in the air every time the motif comes on.
Unsung heroes they might be, but you could say these guys are the backbone of the whole operation. And don’t even get us started on Philippe Decouflé’s exuberant costumes or Stéphane Roy’s otherworldly set, which involves more than 80 sets of fake moustaches and 426 props — the most of any touring production in the company’s history. We can only say, get ready to see a lot of suitcases.
Whenever your mouth isn’t open in wonder, it’ll be because you’re being tickled in the ribs with laughter. Like when an unsuspecting lady was pulled up into stage for a good 10 minutes to be… let’s just say an animal sitter with a penchant for bad Tinder dates — we won’t spoil it for you. Or when a ridiculous dinner party turns into one of the craziest and most incredible stuns of the night: chair balancing, but upside down. It’d be an amazing lesson on physics, if you don’t question your sanity and everything your school teacher taught you first.
As they say, reality is relative at KURIOS, whether it’s right in front of you or 12 metres above the stage. We can’t describe it enough, and it’s not the kind of thing you want to read about anyway. Seeing is believing.