Quick Review: IRIS by Cirque du Soleil

We saw Cirque du Soleil’s resident Los Angeles show last weekend. Cirque is always impressive, and IRIS has the usual collection of trapeze artists, contortionists, tumblers, ribbon flyers, and elaborate costumes you’d expect from one of their shows. This one stands out for several reasons:

  1. I like the history of movies, so all the thematic references to early cinema and classic movies were fun. The Dolby Theater is a great match for this look.
  2. They did a great job of mixing live performances with live and time-delayed video, giving it a very different look from most shows. (And as the program pointed out, the video effects react to the performers, not the other way around.)
  3. This is the first Cirque show I’ve seen in a long time where I enjoyed the clown performances as much as the acrobatics.

Some highlights:

  • The filmstrip act, where the performers walk through a series of identical rooms, each performing an action for a camera that plays back on a short delay, and each interacting with the previous performer’s recorded action.
  • The soundstage number at the opening of act two. I think the entire cast was onstage, all doing something different, all at the same time. An incredible illusion of chaos.
  • A film noir-style fistfight turned into a tumbling trampoline act.

The only disappointment was that act two felt a bit short, probably because the individual numbers were so long.

One more thing: this stretch of Hollywood Blvd is a bit odd if you’re not used to it: It’s sort of like walking around Comic-Con, except the people dressed as Jack Sparrow, Spider-Man and Hello Kitty are there for money instead of fun.

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