Devised and directed by: Michel Laprise. At: Cirque du Soleil at United Center, 1901 W. Madison St. Tickets: $35-$270; 877-924-7783 or www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios. Runs through: Sept. 20
There are plenty of recurring hallmarks for Cirque du Soleil shows and there are many to be found in Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities. The show debuted in Montreal in 2014, and now it has toured to Chicago at the United Center's parking lot under the company's famed yellow-and-blue-striped big top tent.
Typical Cirque du Soleil shows are fairly thin on plot and more tied to a visually stunning theme to carry the show alongit also makes Cirque du Soleil shows truly international since it relies more on physical storytelling instead of language to further things along.
So it's the packaging of circus acts and feats that really matters, and Kurios more than delivers a captivating and imaginative framework under director Michel Laprise to contain all the amazing physical feats on display. The watchword is "steampunk" for the look of Kurios, and it envisions a dream world of late 19th-century technology in brown and copper tones blended with modern touches of today.
The first act of Kurios is much more urban in its approach as you see an inventor clown dream up a world that includes the arrival of a train, an aerial bike messenger and contorting creatures like you might see in an aquarium.
The second act becomes more like a visit to a seaside resort with flapping fish-like creatures bouncing in an enormous trampoline net and tumblers launching and landing on their compatriots' wrists and shoulders.
Everything is enhanced by a swinging score by composers and music directors Raphael Beau and "Bob & Bill" that sounds very similar to composer Yann Tiersen's quirky and contemplative film score to Amelie. Costume designer Philippe Guillotel is also particularly impressive with his whimsical work, which includes such amazing outfits like an accordion-man and one who can contain the cozy living quarters of the diminutive clown known as Mini Lili ( Antanina Satsura of Belarus ).
If there are any complaint to be lodged, it could be that the stadium-style seats are designed more for slender Europeans instead of double-wide Americans, so you might be hard-pressed next to strangers more than you would like. Also, many audience members ignored the pre-show pleadings to put away their camera phones and experience everything live instead of behind a smartphone screen.
But otherwise, Kurios continues to live up to the notoriously high standards that Cirque du Soleil has set for itself and for what audiences expect of their gorgeously designed spectacles. Kurios will guarantee that you will be amazed and awed throughout.