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Cirque Du Soleil's Corteo Review

Aug 17, 2007
Take a typical nightmarish dream sequence you may have deep in the night, add ponderous acrobatics and aerobatics, an eerie story of clowns, death and a funeral, sprinkle in a carnival-like atmosphere ripe with little people and balloons, and inject a heart-pounding live, original score that combines with strange scenes that surround you like a psychedelics-infused blanket, and you've got Corteo.

Last night I went to the Boston show of Corteo, another installment of the hugely popular Cirque Du Soleil. It's a circus, a theatrical musical, a gymnastics show and more. The audience surrounds a perfect circular stage, all under a gigantic big top that successfully blocks out every single photon of outside light.

The entire circle, both stage and audience stands, is sliced in half by two curtains that were a semi-transparent gauze. Between these ephemeral barriers stand the props and actors/athletes who begin the spectacle.

The story is essentially about a clown's funeral, although it took all six of my group to determine the exact plot post-show. It opens with a clown on his death bed, I think, although almost everything is a tinge unclear. And the ongoing mumblings of this doomed clown are in Italian to boot, so it was often tough following things. But he did take pity on the crowd occasionally and would blurt something out in English.

It's difficult to put into words what I witnessed next. The lights and stage were gold, yellow, and earthy, the music was soothing yet bizarre, and this clown sat on a bed while accosted by all kinds of characters. They all started running by him on either side of the bed. Clowns prodded him, small men and women with sculpted bodies spun his bed around, and beautiful angle-wing laden women in tights clinging to elaborate and ornate chandeliers floated above him.

The whole thing truly felt like some kind of mildly disturbing dream. And not just watching the dream, but actually experiencing the darn thing. The 'scenes' were rotated through strange and compelling theatrics and absolutely jaw-dropping acrobatics.

The performers started bouncing on three different beds, flipping over each other, onto other beds and actually dribbling each other, all the while the stage rotated at a stately pace. They bounced around the stage like super balls ricocheting around a metal room. Then the ornate chandeliers that hung over the bed which had beautiful women hanging from them began to swing. The woman swung themselves around the entire place, all the while writhing and climbing among the chandelier lights and chains.

It seemed like the show's wardrobe was 18th century French or Italian, with men's ballooning pants at the thighs, and capes and sharp collars, as they acted out some of the plot. But interjected in the plot were amazing physical feats. For instance, there was a scene where both men and women held onto man-sized sturdy hula-hoops that they spun around in while hanging on. They looked like they were just tossed onto the spinning circular stage out of the pocket of some benevolent giant.

From the roof came a steady air raid of angles that hung on to wires and floated around the set handing various props to the actors.

The second half was even more stunning than the first. It opened with some of the performers bouncing along a skinny, long trampoline that cut through the diameter of the stage. And then the trapeze act started above. Never a mistake, never a slip, just crazy body flinging at its finest.

It's funny because I recently heard Howard Stern (the radio jock) try to get one of his regular listeners to do a stunt for his Sirius Satellite radio show. He wants Eric the Midget to "fly with balloons" by strapping him into something that would allow him to float from a bunch of balloons in Stern's studio. The whole thing is hilarious since Eric is ornery and stubborn and won't agree to it. Howard tries to continuously talk Eric into doing it, ostensibly a great idea that will launch Eric into stardom, really a thinly-veiled attempt at a desire for some good radio.

But Cirque Du Soleil's Corteo beat Howard Stern to the punch. A little person flew, and it was magnificent, but it wasn't on the Howard Stern show.

It was one of the most memorable scenes of the second half, and my favorite. It was a little person floating by balloons. Her name was Valentina, and her size was probably about three feet tall. The kooky Cirque people strapped Valentina into a little harness that was attached to five or six large, helium-filled balloons. I am not kidding. A teeny, tiny three-foot-tall woman named Valentina was floated around the inside of the big top by a bushel of weather balloons.

What's more, she actually drifted over us, the audience, and would eventually descend onto the frenzied crowd. The clown on the stage instructed us to hold two hands up like a platform as Valentina came down out of the air. She would proceed to push off the pair of hands, squealing away like an exuberant pixie.

The stunts in the second half were amazing. A man climbed up and down a ladder that was not leaning against anything. A woman traversed a high wire on her tip toes like a ballerina, then proceeded to climb up another high wire that was at a 45 degree angle! And more gymnasts performed intricate, synchronized parallel bar feats.

The show ended with the whole crew out on the stage, the clowns, the gymnasts, the actors, Valentina, everyone. They all waved goodbye to the star clown who was flying up into the rafters, pedaling a bike that was suspended fifty feet in the air, and drifted away to heaven.

Throughout the show I looked over at the friends I was with and invariably saw lots of smiles. I was thoroughly entranced the entire time, and I would absolutely recommend Cirque's Corteo to anyone, from eight to eighty years old. It was a great experience and I think it would be a great place to bring your kids, or a date.
About the Author
Jason OConnor owns and operates Oak Web Works, LLC and also runs www.BestShowTicketsLasVegas.com.
Web Design Company
Las Vegas, Broadway Show & Concert Tour Tickets
mailto: jason@oakwebworks.com
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