AGI – Imagine stepping into a Melies film set in the early 1900s. A sort of “journey to the moon” where bizarre characters parade alongside flamboyant-looking professors. Then put in some German expressionist cinema, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with human robots to Robert Wiene’s Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari” with touches of Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo Cabret” with the fantastic mechanical images and objects of the scene.
This is what happens to the spectator who enters the majestic marquee at Rome’s Tor di Quinto to watch the show Cirque du Soleil’s “Curious Chamber of Wonder”.. Under the Grand Chapiteau, made for the first time in Italy with a yellow and blue canvas that reaches a height of over 25 meters in line with the four main masts, about 2,500 people live a unique experience immersed in a fascinating and mysterious world leads area that disorients the senses and perceptions to the point where one wonders “Is this all true or is it just a pipe dream?”.
The doors of the cabinet of curiosities are open to an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time and space to reinvent the world around him: unique and extravagant characters lead him to a wonderful place where everything inspires the imagination and his curiosities come to life one by one before his eyes.
A topsy-turvy world full of poetry and humour, where the visible becomes invisible and perspectives change. And all this accompanied by the music of the Kurios Band, composed of six musicians who perform live to show what is happening on stage, motifs reminiscent of the classic jazz of the 20’s.
“Curious – Cabinet of Curiosities”, a touring show by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, which has sold over 130,000 tickets in Italy to datepresented by Italian partners Show Bees and Vivo Concerti, is a mix of unusual oddities and breathtaking acrobatic feats, a true blockbuster in pure Cirque du Soleil style, covering 48,000 square meters until May 29th and then from May 10th until June 25 go to Milan in Piazzale Cuoco.
This production, Cirque du Soleil’s 35th since 1984, boasts a cast 50 artists from 17 different countries, some of whom have been touring with Cirque du Soleil for over 15 years. The scenography transports the viewer to a well-defined place: a seeker’s curiosity chamber full of unusual objects collected on his travels. Set in a kind of retro-future, the stage design makes numerous references to the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, without being tied to it.
“It’s as if Jules Verne met Thomas Edison in an alternate reality out of time,” explains production designer Stéphane Roy. In this parallel universe, the steam engine rules and not the combustion engine. The set evokes the beginning of the industrialization era, but it’s as if science and technology have evolved differently and progress has taken on a more human dimension.
The performance space is dominated by two structures called “chambers”; one explores the subject of sound and the other explores the subject of electricity. Built by the seeker from scraps and pieces collected over time, the two large towers also serve as “wave sensors” made up of various components such as gramophones, old typewriters, lightbulbs and turbines. In reality, these objects were salvaged from landfills and later disassembled, fused and connected by pipes and ducts.
The two chambers of wonder are linked by the main arch – another wave sensor – that dominates the stage. The central opening in the background of the scene is reminiscent of the mouth of a railway tunnel crossing a mountain; it is from here that artists in particular enter and leave the stage and devices and objects are brought on and off the stage.
The show is a tribute to imagination and curiosity. This alternate mechanical world celebrates the merging of pre-existing objects. “All of these objects – the trumpet, the typewriter – have their own history and a new meaning emerges from their connection,” says Roy – further proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The landlord is the seeker, a humanist who is as naïve as she is brilliant, with childlike innocence, believes in an invisible world in which the craziest ideas and the biggest dreams live. He will discover that miracles are available to those who trust their intuition and imagination.
Then there are the curious, the inhabitants of a fictional country called Curiosistan, and appear in the seeker’s world to activate his imagination. Mr. Microcosmos is an authority figure and the leader of the group. A serious guy, embodiment of technological progress; Its world is solid, represented by the steam train and massive building structures: the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais. Then there’s Nico, the accordion man, who wears a costume that allows him great flexibility in his movements, he can get very short or very tall and look everyone in the eye. Then there is Klara, who has a language of her own and embodies man’s obsession with telecommunications that man had in the golden age of railroading when the telegraph and gramophone were invented.
With so much work to do before his dream becomes a reality, the Seeker surrounds himself with a brigade of wizards including Kurios Winch and Kurios Plunger, two bizarre robots the Seeker built himself from scrap and recycled parts. Imperfect and dysfunctional beings, they have a strong smell of metal and leather, and the unbridled imagination of their inventor.
Divided into two stages with a 25-minute interval, the show features spectacular performances. This includes an incredible number of stunts: A strong man and a porcelain-faced doll, who are awakened by an electric shock, emerge from their music box and come to life. The two artists climb to the top of an apparatus almost 4 meters above the ground. Then there’s an extraordinarily acrobatic act in which a girl jumps on her suspended bicycle, defying gravity in plastic poses one after the other: on the handlebars or on the bike, holding just one foot or one arm. She even sits on the saddle, hands on the handlebars and feet on the pedals, but she and her bike are upside down.
There is no shortage of contortion as four creatures of the deep embodying electric eels in the Seeker’s Chamber of Wonder are brought to life in this amazing, fast and fluid contortion. The artists performing this number bring to life a series of incredible pyramids and fantastical figures at an astounding pace. Then there’s the pantomime, who runs a miniature circus with invisible performers. From swings and jumps to unicycling on a tightrope, all shows materialize in the viewer’s mind through the sheer power of visual and sound effects – a poetic and comedic nod to traditional circus arts.
Numbers follow to the wonder and amazement of audiences through to the epilogue, when a group of 13 performers perform spectacular sequences of perfectly synchronized acrobatics and human pyramids, demonstrating the incredible agility of the body. The artists don’t just stand in threes or fours on each other’s shoulders, they float in the air where they make evolutions and cross each other on three levels, but on the ground they move towards a monolith positioned in the center of the space is on stage and in the audience.