Cirque du Soleil's IRIS, A Journey Through the World of Cinema
Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland
6801 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(877) 943-IRIS (4747) toll free
Cirque's IRIS in Hollywood
For anyone who has never seen a show by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, each show is built around a series of animal-free circus acts from aerialists and trapeze artists to contortionists, acrobatic teams, trampoline tumblers and clown characters. Those acts, made up of the best trained physical artists in the world, are the basic building blocks. Then each show is constructed around a theme or storyline and strung together as in a dream, where your brain segues from one fantastical scene to another in ways that may or may not make immediate sense.
The StoryIRIS, which was created exclusively for the Dolby Theatre, is designed around the concept of cinema. The name itself refers to both the iris of the eye and of the camera. A combination of live video streams and pre-recorded video projecting on the backdrop adds a multimedia dimension in keeping with the subject matter.
In addition to the movie theme, which begins with cave shadows on a wall projected by writhing contortionists representing flames, a thin storyline weaves its way through the production. It presents the budding composer Buster, in pursuit of actress Scarlett, who is trying to pursue her movie career. Unlike some Cirque productions, this one is a talkie, at least in part, with dialogue led by a wannabe Hollywood star who changes gender to try to get an acting gig. Audience participation comes into play for a comic award show sequence.
The Circus Acts
Props to the Costumes and PropsPhilippe Guillotel's whimsically quirky costumes and Anne-Seguin Poirier's zany props compete for your attention throughout the show. A girl in a praxinoscopic skirt that shows animated boxers when it spins, a man with a crank camera on his head, aliens and monsters and a woman with two pair of legs are just a few of the interesting creations.
It's hard to tell where costumes leave off and props begin when chairs have human faces, and lamps and house plants are live characters. An automated old-time camera on a wooden tripod, a gramophone and a spotlight with barn doors roam around the stage magically avoiding being trampled by leaping acrobats and zany characters.
Setting the Stage
Jean Rabasse's imaginative film strip set design is the perfect framework for dancers moving with precision through a row of rectangular boxes to create the sense of film frames moving through a projector. The multimedia combination of projected images, and backlit silhouettes giving way to the New York rooftops with a water tower and a neon Hotel sign is a perfect platform for the trampoline tumblers to enact their cops and robbers chase scene.
The MusicDanny Elfman's score cycles through the moods of film history with a playfulness that lets you know exactly where you're supposed to be, from a cave to a B movie set to noir to keystone cops. The orchestration is beautiful, as are the musicians' period costumes. The orchestra plays in view of the audience from mezzanine and balcony boxes on either side of the theatre.
The Bottom Line
Check out the photos in my Cirque du Soleil IRIS Slide Show. You can also see my video of the New York skyline trampoline tumbler scene on YouTube.