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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 10/27/2006

Funereal Joy

By Erin

Save "Harold and Maude," I can't say that I have encountered many people who volunteer to spend a night at a funeral, but in true Cirque du Soleil fashion, "Corteo" should have audiences clamoring to get a seat. The show had me gaping in wide-eyed wonder from start to finish. The arena is set up so that audiences mirror each other on each side of the circular stage, an amazing device that gives the viewer a full array of audience reactions from the stage's vantage point.

As I discussed yesterday, the show centers on a clown as he imagines his funeral. Crazy, colorful characters from his past enter to rival each other in stunts, help him reminisce and pay tribute with many musical processions. The first act blew me away as four girls flipped and spun around on beaded chandeliers high above the clown's bed. They fearlessly dangled from the beaded strands themselves (which looked no stronger than necklace string) and never lost grace or composure. Later, when the diminutive clowness performed her "Helium Dance" tethered to six giant balloons, she wasn't lifted into the air, but balanced, suspended for a moment, before waving down. She drifted out into the audience, landing on people by chance and taking off again.

Since the show takes place in a dream, every prop and costume has an ethereal quality. The metallic juggling rings look like bubbles as they soar through the air, and trampolines are disguised as pillow-laden oversized beds. Actors appear in long flowing gowns and angels float with gorgeous feather wings. Many costumes resemble Picasso's harlequins with ruffled collars and vivid colors. During acrobatic stunts, the costumes are glamorized versions of old bathing gear.

As with typical European-style family shows, there are moments of almost inexplicable cheesiness as with the "Teatro Intimo," but I view those as a chance to catch my breath after the death-defying stunts. Indeed, I'm not sure that the women around me who shrieked with terror throughout the show could've taken that much adrenalin.

The show runs long at nearly three hours, including the 30 minute intermission, so be mindful when reserving weeknight tickets. Also, a large soda will drain the accounts at over $6, so arrive properly nourished or with a heap of cash.

--Erin

By Erin  | October 27, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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