Aside from its colourful ode to Mexico, what makes LUZIA unique among Cirque du Soleil’s repertoire of almost 40 original productions is its use of water. Repeatedly drenching the stage presents an array of practical challenges (including drainage, recycling, temperature control, disinfection, and specially designed no-slip shoes for the performers), but the result is a beautiful visual motif running throughout the show. The sheets of rain are particularly stunning as a backdrop to the aerial acts, and of course have great comedic potential, too, made full use of by clown Eric Koller.

Water is just one element of LUZIA’s clever set design, which also features a rotating stage and two large treadmills. The constant, effortless movement facilitated by these increases the spectacle and ensures a good view for all.

Cirque du Soleil’s aesthetic is one of bustling, maximalist splendour. The central acrobatic feats are often performed amid a crowd of cavorting support characters. With so many charismatic, lushly costumed performers calling for attention at once, one occasionally feels like a child presented with an overflowing box of shiny toys, too distracted to linger with any one thing for long.

A welcome exception comes in the show’s second half, when a lone acrobat performs an aerial straps routine above a pool of water, which rains around him in sparkling arcs as he spins and dives. His interactions with a prowling jaguar puppet demonstrate how impactful these quieter moments can be. The animal puppetry is a delight throughout, but the jaguar, lifelike with its graceful, padding walk and sinuous neck, is a particular highlight.

Water, water, everywhere: Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA. Photo: Anne Colliard

Other noteworthy acts include a pair that dazzle with football tricks, a group who swing and toss another acrobat between them in a hand-to-hand routine, and a pole-climbing ensemble who twine themselves around vertical posts like so many lizards in a jungle.

There are a few stumbles and missed landings in the hoop-diving and double swing acts, but the leaps they do land are so astonishing it is hard not to gasp. The contortionist, too, draws gasps, and just as many winces as he glides snakelike through a series of scarcely believable formations.

A contortionist draws gasps from the LUZIA audience. Photo: Anne Colliard

Another highlight is the costuming, which captures Mexico’s vibrant cultural heritage without straying into cliché or stereotype. Outfits for the final fiesta scene, for instance, include floral and animal patterns inspired by traditional Otomi embroidery. Imagery taken from the natural world features prominently in the costume design throughout. Especially lovely are the silver animal masks, tails, and armpieces worn as accessories by women in 1940s tea dresses and zoot-suited men as they promenade in their surrealist finery.

Everything is set to a lively score from composer Simon Carpentier, often performed on stage by roaming musicians. Beautiful vocals by Majo Cornejo are a soulful accompaniment.

LUZIA is a reliably fun evening out for families, and a treat for anyone wanting to fall into a state of childlike dazzlement for a few hours.

Cirque du Soleil is presenting LUZIA under the Big Top at Adelaide Showground until July 7, after which it will tour to Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

LUZIA‘s costuming captures Mexico’s vibrant cultural heritage. Photo: Anne Colliard

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