Tuesday, August 23, 2011
While in Las Vegas we caught Cirque du Soleil (a name I will forever get confused with Punky Brewster) Ka at the MGM Grand. It's the first Cirque du Soleil thing I've seen. Going in, I wasn't even 100% sure what it was about. I thought it was about the elements fire, water, air and so on. My wife said she thought it was a love story. We both expected a lot of stunts. For the most part, Ka was a blank slate in terms of expectations.
So when you walk in the auditorium there are some striking things about the set design right off. The main stage is a pit that spews flame balls upward at random, the front lip of the stage is wide enough to stand on. The main stage is flanked on both sides by something like Star Wars Ewok Village. The ushers are dressed like a cult and will repeatedly address you as "friend". We had 2nd row seats which were pretty awesome, close enough to touch the actors if we wanted to.
I don't want to give away too much of what Ka is because I felt part of what made it exciting was I didn't know jack about it. So a broad explanation I could give is it's like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon meets Disney meets Avatar. Or a live action Hiyao Miyazaki movie. The story is about royal twins who are separated by an attack on their clan and forced to flee. They are split up and adventures ensue and so on. At least that's what I got out of it since none of the characters (save the narrator) speaks english.
The stunt work in this show is amazing, the timing of their movements were impressive. Hanging from tall heights, martial arts fights with weapons and enough wire work to fill a second Matrix trilogy left me in awe. I had to go to the bathroom half way through but didn't because I was concerned my movement might throw off the performers. Acting was first rate, the fact that these performers can flip and dive and kung fu then hold a convincing facial expression for their character was fantastic.
Again, don't want to give away too much. When George Lucas made Star Wars, he said something like he wanted it to be similar to a foreign movie that starts in the middle and makes you decypher what is happening. Ka is like that. A visual feast for the eyes that retains the thrills of circus acrobatics and adds an emotional layer of epic storytelling.