This Is Who Runs the World in Cirque du Soleil’s New “Amaluna”

Written by | Entertainment, Stage

Amaluna Teeterboard courtesy Cirque du Soleil

Beyonce asked, “Who run the world?” As if in answer, Cirque du Soleil’s latest offering creates a fantastical world of kick-ass female warriors in Amaluna. It’s a fictitious word derived from the root “ama” which translates as mother in several languages and “luna” which translates as “moon.” And it’s here to celebrate the power and the mystique of women.

Shirtless Lizard Man Slithers Seductively

But if you’re worried that shirtless, ripped men don’t get their due, fret no more. There’s enough chiseled beefcake on display for an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial. However the men are clearly interlopers in a woman’s world.

The Cirque du Soleil web site provides a more detailed explanation about the drama unfolding on stage amidst the spectacular visual and sonic wizardry. The creative team drew their inspiration from sources such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest. But at its core, it’s your basic boy-meets-girl paradigm.

Romeo and Miranda are our two star-crossed young lovers. Miranda’s mother, the powerful rock goddess warrior Prospera, brings them together. But their love is threatened by Miranda’s protective (and jealous) pet Cali: a half lizard, half human. Lizard Man starts the pre-show off with some comical antics. He helps himself to popcorn and climbs throughout the audience, working his tail in a way that’s hard to take your eyes off.

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Bowled Over

One of the most striking set pieces of Amaluna is the giant glass water-bowl which sits center stage. And nowhere is it used more tantalizingly that when Romeo first lays eyes on Miranda.

Miranda is performing some stunning aerial work when she suddenly plunges into the water. Romeo watches from afar, transfixed by her beauty. Romeo makes his presence known and there is a tender playful moment when she kicks water on him. His shirt gets wet, leaving our hero no choice but to take it off, revealing an enviable torso.

The audience gasps in approval. But their tender romance is short-lived. It’s not long before the Warrior Queen intervenes and separates the young lovers. But don’t despair. There are plenty of gravity-defying spectacular gymnastic feats to keep you on the edge of your seat while wondering if Romeo and Miranda will be reunited.

Over the course of the show, there’s plenty of male eye candy on display. There’s a whole section of Romeo and his ripped buddies taking turns on the teeterboard. It’s not quite Tom of Finland, but there’s enough male bonding and showing off to tease and delight the imagination. There’s also a segment where Romeo climbs a Chinese pole (shirtless naturally). He then suddenly plunges downward head first, stopping mere inches from the stage.

Quibbles and Critiques

Cirque shows generally offer a humorous subplot to offset the main story. In Amaluna, this comedic portion of the show was scaled down. However, I’d have liked the comedic content to have been more developed and integrated into the show. During intermission, I spoke to two members of the audience who became unwitting volunteers in this plot. It turned out they have previously have performed with Cirque, They mentioned that while these performers make the impossible look easy, that is all part of the illusion. There is always a level of risk.

Another segment of the show involved a woman surrounded by large bones. She painstakingly assembled the bones using mostly her feet while balancing them on her body. The audience seemed spellbound, but I found this part of the show somewhat unsatisfying. For me, it was reminiscent of assembling furniture from IKEA.

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Fortunately, the more fast-paced, action-oriented acrobatics resumed for the remainder of the show. Kudos to internationally celebrated costumer designer Mèrèdith Caron, who has created stunning costumes to match these fantastical feats. Ultimately, Romeo manages to subdue the Lizard Man, allowing his and Miranda’s relationship to blossom, unfettered. I suppose it might’ve been more appropriate in a world celebrating women for Miranda to emerge as the hero, but as they say, all’s well that ends well.

Amaluna plays the LA Waterfront through June 8 and 9 before moving on to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center through July and August. Get tickets.

In the mood to run off and join the circus? Check out this trapeze school:

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Last modified: July 8, 2019