April 12th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NATALIE BAKER News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Live Review: Cirque du Soleil's Kooza


It's back, folks! The Seussy Cirque du Soleil has returned to Portland for just over a month with its disturbingly flexible contortionists (as in a woman breakdancing around her own eerily smiling head), customary hula hoop and trapeze tricks, dramatic background music, endearing (usually) audience abuse, and a vague story line tying it all together.

The Canadian alternative circus troupe is billing the new show, Kooza, as an exploration of "fear, identity, recognition and power," though that's some deep philosophical credit for having a young clown boy get creeped out by a sinister "trickster" while running around trying to use his magic wand. But, as usual, the ticket-selling and crowd-pleasing essence of this show is its reality-defying physical feats, not pseudo-intellectualism. And in that sense, Kooza, directed by renowned clown David Shiner, does not disappoint.

In addition to the aforementioned circum-head dancing, the spectacle of two satanic men racing around the "Wheel of Death"—two huge rings connected into a 50-foot spinning contraption—and stilted acrobats catapulting into the air via seesaw are some of the evening's most magnificent triumphs. The closest thing to unicycle sex you'll ever see and a cyclist/chair balancer tripartite on the high wire will impress, as well.

And then there are the clowns. Tirelessly rambunctious, the three dopey comic-reliefers have more stage presence and a taste for adult humor this time around, with stints that include mimicking drug use and shoving wine bottles up one's behind, a gay clown porn scene, and the humping of an audience member. Last, and definitely least, is the anthropomorphic dog that pisses on the audience. Cirque du Soleil may not be too classy this time around, but it still brings a full (read: three-hour) night of entertainment.

An aside: I scored a 22 at Kooza Bingo.

SEE IT: Grand Chapiteau, SW Moody Avenue by the Marquam Bridge, 800-450-1480. 8 pm Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4 and 8 pm Fridays-Saturdays, 1 and 5 pm Sundays. Closes May 16. $31.50-$125. Order tickets here.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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