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Published on June 16th, 2012 | by Kira


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.

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About the Author

Former neuroscientist, and now fashion photographer, Kira is a perfect fit for TrulyNet. She has a great understanding of what is hot, loves the new geeky toys, and has the academic background to be opinionated on it. Kira is well traveled, has lived in Australia and Canada for school. Loves the outdoors, biking, all types of art, and is completely obsessed with fashion and photographing it. She presently can be found in New York City at an art event, art gallery, museum, science talk, one of the NYC parks, a vegetarian friendly restaurant, a comic book store, or out getting bubble tea. She is a little obsessed with bubble tea.

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