Review: ‘Iris’ is a fun world of light and shadow

The full name of the new Cirque du Soleil show that opened officially on 25 September 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood s “Iris: A Journey Through the World of Cinema” and it is a light-hearted look at what Hollywood represents as well as the concept of moving pictures.

There’s a little steampunk attitude here. Before the show begins, the performers who walk among the audience includes a women with a skirt that is a eluminated zoetrope. What’s a zoetrope? You’ve probably seen them before. It’s a cylindrical device with slits in it and when you spin it, you get an optical illusion that the pictures inside are moving.

That’s not all, of course. There’s a woman with exaggerated proportions, a guy with big feet and a funny walk and, a man with a really creative up-do. That man gives a new twist on the concept of whiplash.

The stage gives you the feel of an old Victorian illustration and at times moves in ways that are curious and sometimes a bit creepy. Writer and director Philippe Decouflé doesn’t resist the urge to create a play within a play. Why not!

And the concept of the movies at its most fundamental level–light and shadow is always present. Expect a few optical illusions and contortions and acrobatics that could almost be illusions. Acrobatic dancers created images on a screen with their stop-action motion, sihouettes are used for effect and two men soar out above the audience. Colorful bug people bounce around into different configurations, merging with filmed illusions.

There is also a story line. A man, Buster, who plays the piano, falls in love with a lovely blonde woman, Scarlett. He pursues her as she finds fame and fortune. In between there’s some ribbon twirling that is parodied by the dreaded toilet-paper-stuck-to-a-shoe, cops and robbers played out on trampolines and the old piece of wood hitting and missing people.

At the end, there’s plenty of glitter and even a tangle of tinsel. This is a happy show, sure to delight dancers and photographers although it made me want a zoetropic skirt! That’s not one of the souvenirs offered in the shop, but it should be (although who could afford it?)

You could take the Gold Line to the Red Line and get off at Hollywood and Highland.

Up until the official opening, The Langham Hotel in Pasadena was having a special package deal, but alas, that has ended and according to a spokesperson is not currently scheduled to come back. You can drive to the Kodak Theatre and park underneath for $10, but go early because of traffic.

The Hollywood Hotel does have a package deal.

“Iris” continues at the Kodak Theatre. The show is recommended for ages 5 and up.  Tickets range from $43 to $133. VIP tickets begin at $235. For more information, go to the official website.

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