Despite having spent 19 days last year in Las Vegas, I never once made it to a show. People always tell me the Cirque du Soleil shows are a must in Vegas, so this year I was determined to see one for myself.
My show of choice was Zarkana, one of the newer Cirque Du Soleil shows to grace the Las Vegas Strip. Zarkana replaced Viva Elvis at Aria Resort & Casino, and has been playing there since November 1st 2012.
To give you an idea of the show, here’s an official clip from Youtube.
I had tickets to the 9:30 showing and I was seated in section 103, which is the Golden Circle seating directly in the middle. These are the best and comfiest seats in the house with sofa seating and plenty of room, although the theater felt intimate enough that you would probably have a decent view no matter where you sat. It’s best to arrive about 15-30 minutes before hand so you have plenty of time to get a drink from the bar and use the restroom if you need it…you don’t want to be dying to use the bathroom during a 1.5 hour performance!
The name Zarkana is a fusion of the words “bizzare” and “arcane”, which are definitely the most appropriate words to describe the show! The fantasy world of Zarkana is very odd and slightly dark and twisted, with bizzare characters and strange goings on. The show mixes traditional circus acts such as the highwire, the flying trapeze and the Russian bar with rather surreal set productions.
The plotline goes something like this:
Zark is the ringmaster of a circus coming back to life, who guides viewers to an abandoned theatre populated by a motley crew of off-the-wall characters and talented acrobats. His friends the White Clowns come out of hiding to try and help him put a show together, but they are unable to perform the simplest of tasks and nothing works the way he wants. The reason for this the love of his life, Lia, is missing and without her there can be no magic.
These are just some of my personal highlights from the show…
Each major act is broken up with the clowns Hocus and Pocus, who are Zark’s useless assistants who always make mistakes. If I’m really honest I didn’t understand some of the jokes and I felt a little bored, but I did like the part where one of the clowns flies over the crowd handing out his number on a piece of paper and twirling his nipple tassles around!
This was one of my favourite parts of the show! A swinging pendulum is lit on fire and swings back and forth, as the high wire performers move along the high-wire trying to dodge the flames. I was holding my breath hoping they wouldn’t be hit by that ball! In the background, Kundalini the Snake Lady sings a song, as dozens of snakes writhe around on a video screen around her.
The Russian Bar
Oh wow, again this was nailbiting to watch. Two strong porters hold a single bar on their shoulders, while the Russian bar performer carefully balances on the bar, leaps into the air and performs multiple summersaults and twists!
In this scene, a sand painter creates beautiful images summarising the first half of the show, and gives a preview of what is about to come. I have seen sand painters a few times and always find it very impressive to see how they can create such intricate images with just some sand!
I love the set for this particular act, which features a huge spider’s web and a singing tarantula in an incredible black sparkly costume. In the foreground, highly-skilled trapeze artists launch themselves from platforms and are caught by the hands of their porters. The whole scene is visually stunning!
Girls, I’m sure you’ll understand why I was drooling over this one! There’s nothing quite like watching a gymnast showing off his muscular body! In a moment of relative calm, the artist performs some graceful movements and incredible hand balancing acts, seamlessly transferring his weight from one arm to the other.
The Wheel of Death
While watching this act I was gripping my seat and almost wanted to shout “get down from there!” The wheel is powered solely by the strength of the two Wheel of Death artists, who perform incredible leaps and jumps as it spins around.
OK the Pickled Lady is just plain creepy; a video-based character with 6 arms that lives in a pickled jar. Very weird, very surreal, but kind of fascinating to watch!
So what did I make of it?
Since I have only ever seen one Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, I can’t compare it to the others, but I thought the acrobatic stunts in Zarkana were spectacular and the costumes, set production and video screens were very impressive. You might find the clowns a bit tiresome and the story a bit confusing since the songs are in a made-up Circus-speak language, but if you want a more traditional circus performance then this is perhaps the show for you!
When I come back to Las Vegas I will definitely go and see another Cirque du Soleil show! I think it’s a great thing to do if you are traveling solo like me or your just want to do something other than gambling and clubbing!
There are 2 performances of Zarkana, one at 7pm and the other at 9:30pm. The show performs Friday through Tuesday- there are NO performances on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Prices: $69, $99, $130, $140, $150, $180 (plus tax and fees).
Where to buy Tickets: You can buy tickets on the Cirque du Soleil website or the Aria website. You can also visit the ticket office at Aria, or any of the MGM Resorts International box offices. Alternatively you can call 877.253.5847 or 702.531.2031
Disclosure: My ticket to Zarkana by Cirque Du Soleil was complimentary for the purpose of a review, but all opinions expressed here are my own.