It’s my favorite kind of 3D–gorgeous bodies, warm, alive, and right in front of me, beautifully lit, stunningly costumed, performing the most extraordinary stunts, all choreographed to embody the myths that animate our lives– such is CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’s latest show, AMALUNA, which just blew into Boston. AMALUNA is written and directed by Harvard’s American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus (whose production of ALL THE WAY with Bryan Cranston just earned her two more Tony Awards!)
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, which began in 1984 with a group of Canadian street performers, has ballooned into a global phenomenon that now has 19 different shows onstage around the world! There are miracles lurking beneath the “Grand Chapiteau”–Cirque’s “big top”– as we enter that magical space: a dark forest illuminated by electric blue and green trees on an enchanted island where goddesses reign supreme and the moon is their guide. “AMALUNA,” which loosely translated means “mother moon,” is all about FEMALE POWER! How amazing that I just happened to bring my mother and daughter– and that WE ALL loved it.
The show is inspired by classical mythology, Mozart’s MAGIC FLUTE, and Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST; but those tales are literally the jumping off point. Within minutes, the cast — 70 % women–began flying, tumbling and floating in from all directions! The story is a whirl of physical and emotional upheaval all set in motion by Queen Prospera who triggers a storm bringing men to the island and with them, the trials of young love as Prospera’s own daughter’s comes of age.
Queen “Prospera” is played by 52 year old Australian musician Julie McInnes who started touring with the company at age 50! (Yes. It’s better after 50.) McInnes who sings and plays many instruments including cello, leads the all-female band in the most dreamy pop/rock fusion and propels the cast of artist/athletes through the seemingly impossible. I believe I saw one woman meticulously balance an increasingly elaborate and enormous web of branches on the end of one little stick. And I’m pretty sure I saw a breathtakingly beautiful woman barely clothed in what looked like moon beams, dangling oh-so-delicately– 30 feet in the air by just the back of her neck!
As someone who can barely manage one push-up without the fear of snapping like a twig, I watched in near apoplexy as another young woman immersed herself in a clear, giant water bowl, then emerged to contort herself into shapes so diabolically twisted it seemed her internal organs must have been completely re-arranged. There were men and women who wrapped themselves around each other while flying through the air like a storm in progress, while others performed flying acrobatics like meteors on fire, and a man so impossibly strong he held himself high in the air, horizontally from a vertical shaft– with one arm?!!
All this and more called to mind the medieval rumination about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. After seeing AMALUNA, I swear, at LEAST a million– and I’m sure I saw many of them at CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’s “AMALUNA.” Escape to this awe-inspiring world of enchantment now encamped on Boston’s waterfront at the Marine Industrial Park from May 29 to July 6– before heading off to Atlanta Ga., and Washington D.C.! Bring your mother.