Published on June 16th, 2012 | by Kira0
The Spectacle of Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana
Imagine a stage with two sets of curtains that look like the softest, most elegant satin you have ever seen, exquisitely wrinkled. You have the urge to go up and touch them. The lights are low to help set the dark mood, and a band of misfits in all-white avant garde garb is deliberately sauntering down the aisles dropping books, playing a range of instruments, and dancing with a hula hoop.
The curtains open and you are overcome with the sensationalism of Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana: the blaring tandem organs, the rush of characters who look like they just escaped from a Terry Gilliam film, and the stage that can only be described as Maleficent’s castle. The first act is nicely accented in green, while the rest of the cast remains in white. She is a juggler who can impressively bounce balls off any surface without missing a beat (literally, she was doing it to the music). After she disappears into the floorboards of the stage, a “young” girl seems to be trapped on a lighting rafter. To rescue her a male and female ladders balancing act build their performance up to where the guy is balancing on a ladder that is on top of a piano (nothing holding it up, but him), with a ladder balanced on his head that the female climbs to the top of to balance herself on top of, all in the name of rescuing this young girl. Truly incredible, but this is the beginning of the end of the plot.
It’s normally a bit difficult to follow the storyline of most Cirque Du Soleil shows, but this one was even more confusing than usual. The young girl who needed rescuing apparently falls into some vat that turns her into a six armed baby. There is no resolution to the mutant baby situation, and there is no character development between the Magician and his ostensible lover. In fact, I thought she was a villain up until the end (where they “lovingly” come together), because she takes on villain-like personas: a snake and a spider, that even makes her look like Maleficent. The plot and music were so substanceless that, for the most part, they faded into the background. For most of the show, this is perfectly fine- the spectacle of the stage and the steampunk contraptions, digital effects, creative costumes more than carry the show. And that’s without a mention of the amazing acrobats, who held their own for the most part despite some opening night jitters. The music, for some of the same reasons, wasn’t completely convincing- perhaps the translation of the lyrics into ‘Cirquish’ altered the effect since the show’s last run.
Most of the acts were a more impressive version of what you would see at a normal circus. Among the stand-outs were the ladder balancing act, as well as an incredible sand painter that gave us a quick rehash of what had happened, and opened us to the next scene. Finally, there was a lovely balancing solo act featuring a performer whose movements were like elegant poetry as he twisted, contorted, and balanced his perfect body. I do not think anyone could take their eyes off him. And what is a circus without clowns?
Overall, the transitions between the scenes were seamless, and most of the acts went perfectly. There was a close call on apparently aptly-named The Wheel of Death, where one of the male performers tripped and clearly hurt himself, but to our gasping breath he did not fall to his death and recovered fairly quickly. He got one of the larger rounds of applause, but more because we were thankful that he was alive.
As always Cirque Du Soleil is tantalizing and Radio City Music Hall is a perfect venue for the show, which comes with a shiny price tag of $55.00-170.00 per ticket, fairly in line with other local options. With a show like this, it is ideal to be closer so you can really see the action. We recommend aiming to find discounted tickets for the better seats, if you can.