Kooza is the new show from Cirque du Soleil’s touring circus which premiered in Canada in 2007. The name of the show – Kooza – was inspired by the Sanskrit word ‘koza’ meaning ‘box’, ‘chest’ or ‘treasure’ and was chosen for the idea of performing a ‘circus in a box.’
The show’s protagonist is The Innocent, an unsuspecting and melancholic character, who, in the opening scene, is intricately attempting to fly his kite; his physique resembles a child as he is small and dressed like a clown, perhaps to capture the whimsical nature of children as they enjoy playing dress-up and often act out scenes related to growing up.
The Innocent receives a package out of which springs the elusive Trickster, a man who is quick on his feet as he whirls around The Innocent, rousing splendour into the audience with his spellbinding performance. He knows all about the world of Kooza because he is the one who created it for The Innocent. He steps in and out of the performances whenever he pleases and manipulates The Innocent’s surrounding world. He possesses a magic wand, the flick of which ignites a powerful uproar of lightening that initially startles both The Innocent and the audience an effect that allows the audience to become submerged in the stunning visual effects on stage. The Innocent is teased by the Trickster but is eventually given the wand in order that he may manipulate the majestic world of Kooza as he chooses.
This theatrical masterpiece adopts the traditional style of Cirque du Soleil’s performance as the show mainly focuses on the art of acrobatics and the cheeky world of clowning around.
The first act enters the stage on a rotating platform. The performers are bundled into a shape of people as the audience struggles to understand how many of them there are. The intertwined female contortionists then elegantly unfurl to reveal three identical performers, who glide through the air, and converge into an array of different positions that challenge their physical abilities to the extreme, as the audience stares in awe while they bend into a structurally unbelievable position.
One of the performers is a balancing marvel. He initially stands atop just one chair suspended on a platform, however then his assistants come on stage and pass him chair after chair as he carries on mounting his chair-inspired Everest. Finally, he is given the tenth chair and he places it at a tilted angle at the peak of the chair-stacked Jenga tower, the final piece barely hinged to it, and the intrepid performer then proceeds to climb. He then throws his legs over his body whilst balancing on the tower, first using both arms as supports, then only one. The audience is at the edge of their seats, both amazed and bewildered.
Arguably, the most exciting part of the show was the two elusive figures who rotated on the high-speed thrill that is the 1,600 pound Wheel of Death. There are two wheels at either side of the device within which the men begin to spin the wheel and gain momentum. The wheel seems unstoppable by now when suddenly one of the men leaps out onto the outside of the wheel, still rotating it, but now leaping and back-flipping on the outside of it, producing a stunning display of near-death acrobatics and teamwork.
The story shows The Innocent become submerged in the magical world of Kooza as he discovers all it has to offer, each act is a separate and unique reflection of The Innocent’s inner world which he shares with the audience.