Friday night we went to see Delirium, Cirque du Soleil's arena touring group, at Kemper arena in Kansas City. Delirium is Cirque du Soliel's attempt to bring some sort of tribal experience to a large arena and it is quite different from the more acrobatic Cirque du Soliel shows that the average person is familiar with. Rather than performing in the round, the audience is on one side of a large central stage flanked by two huge projection screens. The central stage is at various times curtained off by a very thin material that also can have images projected on it. The images, the music and the performers are very tightly integrated.
The choreography is stunning and Delirium shows what can be done with light to give texture. During part of the show a series of tribal dancers were hunched on a large moving mushroom complete with drums and as the lighting shifted the dancers became more like black and white poison arrow frogs clinging to the mushroom. I don't know if that specifically was the intent, but the effect was quite striking. At other times the effect was like peering into a large surreal water filled aquarium with human fish floating around, layers upon layers of texture built up entirely with lights.
We enjoyed Delirium but I don't think the audience as a whole got quite what they expected. A number of people left before the end and most of the rest of the people were somewhat reserved in their reactions. Part of the problem may simply have been the venue. We were way up in the third tier of seats-you know the seats where oxygen masks are required if the air pressure gets too low. We could see and hear the show fine-the problem is that the arena audience is so spread out that the audience members never were able to connect with each other in the sort of tribal way that it seems Delirium is trying to foster.
Probably those on the main floor got a better connection with each other and with the performers since performers did interact directly with them and it seemed that the producers are really trying to overcome the limitations of the sterile arena setting. They just can't quite pull it off yet- at least not for a tough Kansas audience. Maybe the producers can find some little trick or thing for those in the auditorium as a whole to do especially toward the end and their wonderful climax, even if only some of those big balloons that were bounced around on the arena floor made it to where we were.
Kansans get another chance to see Delirium at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita March 12 through the 14th at 8:00 pm. If you go in expecting to see lots of exciting acrobatics you may be disappointed, but the show is stunning. By the way, the pictures on the Delirium web site do not do justice to the special effects. Also we took binoculars and while they were nice to have to see details of some of the costuming, they really were not needed as much of the action on the main stage is integrated into the imagery projected on the side panels.
Kansas City Star
Chicago Sun Times
Grand Rapids Press
Peoria Journal Star
Cirque du Soleil