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Originally published February 4, 2013 at 5:00 AM | Page modified February 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

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Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Amaluna’ celebrates the power and grandeur of women

A review of Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Amaluna,’ at Marymoor Park through March 24, 2013.

Seattle Times theater critic

REVIEW

‘Amaluna’

By Cirque du Soleil. Plays through March 24 at Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway N.E., Redmond; $40-$133.50 (800-450-1480 or www.cirquedusoleil.com).

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We are women, watch us soar! And twirl. And flip. And prance on a high wire — backward, in high heels.

Female power is on full display in “Amaluna,” the estrogen-fueled Cirque du Soleil show that has taken up residence in Redmond’s Marymoor Park through March 24.

The Montreal circus outfit has always included some of the world’s outstanding women circus artists in its array of touring shows. But this gorgeous new fantasia, with noted Broadway stage director Diane Paulus heading the artistic team, is unabashedly female-centric.

The equivalent of a cirque Lilith Fair, “Amaluna” is a spell-casting spectacle that plucks archetypal feminine imagery from many fertile sources: Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” ancient Greek mythology, and Wonderwoman (with maybe a touch of “Game of Thrones” in the pastiche also).

“Amaluna” (the title combines venerable terms for “mother” and “moon”) has more of a distinct plot here than most Cirque du Soleil shows, but it’s basically a fairy tale.

The imposing, satin-robed singer Prospera (Julie McInnes) is a maternal powerhouse who rules her magic isle while bowing her portable, midnight-blue cello.

Her daughter Miranda (the beguiling Ikhertsetseg Bayarsaikhan) is virginal innocence incarnate, as well as a remarkable contortionist who playfully splashes around in one of the centerpieces of Scott Pask’s stunning set design: a giant water bowl that could be the world’s largest cocktail glass.

Good men are hard to find on this island, so Prospera conjures a terrific storm at sea by unleashing the fury of a couple of very ripped “wind gods.” Their breathtaking aerial act has them swooping down from the tippy-top of Cirque’s Grand Chapiteau tent, swathed in swirling black clouds.

The storm washes ashore a crew of hunky boys (token males?) who happen to be teeterboard champs. Among them is handsome Romeo — who falls for Miranda at first sight. Like, who wouldn’t?

As Shakespeare never lets us forget, the course of true love never does run smooth. Before they can have their first gentle smooch, the couple must fend off the evil designs of Cali (basically Caliban, from “The Tempest”). This leering creature, half-man and half-lizard, is played with sinuous villainy by Viktor Kee — who, at one point, whips out a half dozen balls to launch into his master juggling routine.

There’s also a wicked legion of black-clad women dancers to fend off, whose spiky, silver-thatched headgear looks like fearsome weaponry.

Pask’s set design, emphasizing gem tones of topaz and emerald, and the ravishing costumes by Meredith Caron, embellish all the skill acts. It’s marvelous to watch a squadron of Amazons in scarlet bodysuits and feathered helmets whip through an exciting routine on the uneven bars.

And the show opens with gamin acrobats in fuchsia twirling orbs called les meteores d’eau (water meteors) while perched on the feet of courtiers garbed in Elizabethan-style green doublets and puffed pants (with cute leather fanny-packs).

The music here, by the way, leans toward hard rock (driven by women wailing away on electric guitars).

The weakest point in many a Cirque du Soleil show is the clowning, and “Amaluna” is no exception in that regard. The buffoons here are a stumblebum ship captain (a gal in male drag) who romances a loudly cooing, cackling lass.

One tiresome skit tries too hard to make mirth out of a pregnant woman’s water breaking and the agony of giving birth to — in this surreal maternity ward — a slew of crying footballs that are farmed out to audience members.

At least “Amaluna” is consistent, in paying homage to all things womanly.

But far more entertaining here are the thematic feats of a pastel-blue moon goddess aerialist dangling from her crescent perch. And a balancing act, in which a tree is painstakingly constructed from what look to be long branches, which are manipulated by a gymnast’s toes. (It’s perhaps one of the most quietly mesmerizing circus acts I’ve ever seen.)

And then there’s the big finish, when the baddies are vanquished and all the island creatures celebrate by spinning and swerving in the air. Bring on the Valkyries! There’s got to be Valkyries! Ah yes, those flying Norse goddesses are already here.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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