Review: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Amaluna’ impresses, but doesn’t quite wow

Montreal-based circus juggernaut Cirque du Soleil has been a frequent visitor to San Francisco’s Oracle Park for as long as the baseball stadium (now on its fourth name) has been around, bringing its many touring shows to a big top in the ballpark’s parking lot.

The latest show is a rerun of sorts. Created and directed by Diane Paulus, “Amaluna” has completely different performers in its majority-female cast than when it first came to town in 2013, performing a similar set of circus acts. After its San Francisco run it moves up to Sacramento in January.

“Amaluna” is very loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” but you don’t go to a Cirque show for the story. The inspiration basically boils down to a few character archetypes, a magical island setting and a bit of love at first sight.

The island is presided over by Queen Prospera, portrayed by Amanda Zidow with a lot of mysterious sorcerous gestures and wordless singing, forcefully reinforced by lead singer Jennifer Aubry. She also does some thunderous cello playing when she conjures a storm, embodied by aerialists Kristina Ivanova, Mei-Mei Bouchard and Lais Gomes da Silva zooming through the air on straps like Valkyries.

No sooner has Prospera’s daughter Miranda come of age with a somber ceremony than she falls for the first shipwrecked sailor to come along, here called Romeo. Anna Ivaseva’s Miranda does a fascinatingly graceful hand balancing and contortion dance slipping in and out of a large transparent bowl of water. Danny Vrijsen does a fairly impressive pole-climbing act as Romeo, though he really shines as part of a hearty teeterboard act of gents merrily bounding up and down and flipping through the air.

There’s a parallel love story between the two clowns, portrayed as classic comic servant archetypes even if their roles are undefined. Bay Area performer Kelsey Custard is indefatigably upbeat and eagerly amorous, while Thiago Andreuccetti is an excitable but tremblingly timid suitor. Both are pleasant presences, but like a lot of recent Cirque du Soleil clown segments their bits are only mildly amusing.

Cirque shows are mainly known for two things: flamboyant production design and dazzling displays of circus skills. Scott Pask’s set design is fairly spare, with the stage circled by what look like oversize reeds and mobile-like leaves hanging over the audience. Mérédith Caron’s colorful costumes are more ornate, involving some peacock-like capes and headdresses. The score by Bob &

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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