Review by Brittany Crowell
Luzia, Cirque du Soleil’s traveling show that recently put up their tent in the Citi Field parking lot, has something for everyone. If you’re not impressed with the swing jumpers, there is a piece where two performers balance a soccer ball in ways you’d never expect, If that doesn’t impress you, there’s an aerialist who hangs from one arm while swinging and twirling in and out of a pool and through a sheet of rain falling across the stage.
The wide array of skills as well as the sheer talent of each performer was impressive. I found myself audibly voicing my awe at each act along with over 2,000 others in the packed tent.
Luzia contains a loose narrative that helps to frame and lead the audience through the experience, while not limiting the act of the imagination. A “waking dream of Mexico,” Luzia combines elements of light and rain, uniting the tricks through design and their tie to various elements of the Mexican landscape and culture.
We follow a clown that falls from the sky and lands in the heart of Mexico during the prologue of the piece. Our clown “guide” then finds a large turn-key which, when turned, shifts the rules of the world as we know it and allows us to follow him on a journey through the Mexico of dream and imagination, through time and away from reality.
The acts are not the only jaw-dropping aspect of Luzia, where design is as much a part of the evocation of the imagination as the reality-defying performances. Giovanna Buzzi brought grandeur to the practical costumes for each trick and even placed performance on the performers themselves with costumes that invoked the imagination – a singer’s white dress began to bloom into an array of red flowers throughout one of her many songs during the piece. There were also puppets, brought to life by designer Max Humphries and the performers behind the animals, whether It was the multi-performer horse or jaguar, or the snake and iguana worn by performers as if pieces of their costume.
Scenic designer Eugenio Caballero, lighting designer Martin Labrecque, and projection designer Johnny Ranger collaborated seamlessly to give us a myriad of environments around Mexico and centered themselves on the large round circle that served as the stage backdrop, turning and morphing to invoke both sun and Aztec architecture and moving us from day to night and to caves, streets, and jungles through light.
The sounds of Luzia, composed by Simon Carpentier, also helped to bring us into the environment and came both from speakers around the tent, but were also created on the stage itself. The juggler being backed by two large xylophones and a brass instrument that we watched the performers play while the juggler added another and yet another pin to the mix.
The tent was packed with a diverse group of people, brought together in their desire to see the limits of their world questioned and to redefine human capacity for strength, balance, and endurance. Cirque du Soliel brings us an impressive show with Luzia, one that broadens our realm of possibilities and invokes joy, laughter, and awe.
LUZIA – by Daniele Finzi Pasca and Julia Hemlin Finzi; directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca; associate director, Brigitte Poupart
Sets and props by. Eugenio Caballero; costumes by Giovanna Buzzi; composition and musical direction by Simon Carpentier; acrobatic choreography by Edesia Moreno Barata, Debra Brown, and Sylvia Gertrúdix Gonzalez; puppet design by Max Humphries; lighting design by Martin Labrecque; projection design by Johnny Ranger; sound design by Jacques Boucher; acrobatic performance design by Philippe Aubertin; acrobatic equipment and rigging design by Danny Zen; makeup designby Maryse Gosselin. Cirque de Soleil: Guy Laliberté, guide; Jean-François Bouchard, creative guide; Patricia Ruel, director of creation. At Big Top (123-01 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11368); https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia; through June 9. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.