Mystère by Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil shows are always amazing, wherever you see them in the world, but in Las Vegas this theatrical circus company has found a real home. There are currently seven permanent shows performing in the desert funfair city, all residents of huge hotel complexes where specially designed theatres are built into the buildings. These auditoriums are playgrounds for the talented acrobats, comedians and musicians, and they bounce and fly around the arenas with ease and genuine enjoyment.

Mystère was the first show to arrive in Las Vegas in 1993, with the first performance thrilling audiences at Treasure Island on Christmas Day. 22 years and 10,000+ performances later this magical show is still considered by many to be the best show to see in Las Vegas. Loosely following the theme of the mystery of life, the show begins with two wailing prams left stationary on stage. There are a few other hints towards this subject, though in true Cirque du Soleil style the piece of theatre takes on a life of its own.

A number of acts have been with the show since it started, a dedication that is testament to the company. We were first greeted with the mischievous clown Brian Dewhurst, marching around the theatre, deceiving innocent guests and throwing popcorn around. He has been on the show for 17 years and still has boundless energy at 83 years old.

The stage is an impressive feat of technical design, no surface is permanent, every part constantly evolves and the scale is astounding. The performance runs seamlessly for 90 minutes, without an interval, which keeps the audience’s attention focused and immersed. A series of dramatic acts in spectacular costumes grace the stage, each with their own supernatural talent. I found the Hand-to-hand act particularly moving, two brothers illustrate super strength, balancing in a range of spectacular poses. As expected the most awe-inspiring acts are left for the finale. A group of acrobats hurl themselves into the air, catapulting each other onto giant trampolines and forming human pyramids. Then we watch high above our heads as brave performers swing on trapezes and swap mid air – it has a dreamlike impossibility.

Every sense is entertained with this award-winning show from the Cirque du Soleil team. I have always loved their circus extravaganzas but somehow it feels bigger, better and more unbelievable in the setting of Las Vegas’ Treasure Island theatre.

More information and book tickets to Mystère here.

Kooza, Cirque du Soleil Premiere, Royal Albert Hall

Sitting in the great Royal Albert Hall on 8th January with Jeremy Clarkson on my right, Darcy Bussell on my left and Holly Valance (avec Candy Bro Beau) behind,  I felt sure that I had the hottest ticket in London. Next morning I was reassured further by my mother’s reports from the Daily Mail website… celebrities turned up in their masses to the Cirque du Soleil premiere… well why would you turn down a golden ticket to see the greatest circus show in the world?

Kooza is a story of opposites: love and hate, life and death, fear and wonder. Loosely based around the world of a clown, the narrative begins and ends with notions of innocence and trickery. Like most of the Cirque shows, the storyline is enigmatic and rather nonsensical and soon becomes lost. In fact it is impossible to focus on anything logical when your eyes and ears are so involved in the acts on stage, praying silently they’ll survive the next jump.

As ever the production is beautifully realised, perfectly poetic and looks magically surreal from start to finish. They create another world that feels so far removed from everyday life, and gives every audience member a few hours of euphoric escapism. Music is played live on stage by an energetic band of musicians, adding to the dramatic climaxes. The Royal Albert Hall provides an epic canvas for the production and the stage has been customised wonderfully to allow for the extensive set design. Stephane Roy evokes memories of colourful carnivals and circuses of yesteryear, claiming it is “a genuine return to the roots of Cirque du Soleil”.

There is a good mix of talents exhibited in Zooza with the familiar ‘circus’ traditions all displayed through the acts: mind-bogglingly strange contortionists, a daring trapeze artist and miraculous tightrope walkers/ cyclists/ dancers. The clowning around became a little tiresome, especially at the start while we waited for the final arrivals from the red carpet to take their seats. When you consider the virtuosic gymnastics, it is hardly surprising that the comical acts pale in comparison.

The most electrifying act of the show is undoubtedly the huge ‘wheel of death’. A staggering, scary, revolving metal contraption balanced and set in motion by two incredibly brave men. As one runs faster the other jumps, twists and clings to the spinning wheel, seemingly moments away from a distrastrous fall. The crowd gasped and I felt my palms grow sweaty and my throat dry as each turn increased in difficulty and danger. I loved the final Teeterboard act too. A talented group of performers take it in turns to catapult from a giant seesaw, hurtling up into the air, sometimes with precarious stilts attached to their feet, they land immaculately after numerous flips and turns.

Cirque du Soleil continues to push the boundaries of human capability with yet another hit show of fantasy, thrills and breathtaking acrobatics, all whilst creating a display that is visually inspiring and musically exquisite. I never fail to be amazed by this impossibly brilliant company. Bravo.

Kooza continues until 14th February, more information and buy tickets here.