We saw Zumanity tonight – the Cirque du Soleil show at New York New York in Las Vegas. While I would say a good portion of it is gratuitous sexuality and trashy humor, it was overall a well-put-together show with many metaphorical aspects of the circuses of old. (We watched Mystere last time, and whereas Mystere had more acrobatics, Zumanity felt like a better show overall.)
The whole concept behind Cirque du Soleil is to create a circus that doesn’t use animals. As a side note, a great book about how they treat circus animals in the heyday of circuses is Water for Elephants. Instead, the focus is on humans, and acrobatics and such. What struck me about Zumanity was how many aspects of a traditional circus they incorporated into the show. Examples are as follows.
In Zumanity, they had the concept of a ringmaster (who is a transvestite in this case, which also takes care of the Bearded Lady staple of circuses), a main ring (the main act that everyone watches), side rings (the background dancers and minor acts off to the side during the main act), the clowns (in Zumanity’s case, two “merchants” of sex goods – complete with dildos and scotch baggies), the “animal” (a guy called the “Beast” who didn’t speak – only growled), the lions in a cage (two men who “fought” in a rubber cage, lots of sexual tension that culminated in a kiss – to both cheers and boos), freaks (the Rubber Band Man – crazily double-jointed dude who did seemingly painful things with his body), and of course, the acrobats.
The show really doesn’t NEED to have nudity in it. It’s completely gratuitous. And, I feel, distracts from the show itself. The nudity is a spectacle, and probably a huge reason why people see it. Because of it, the technicalities of the show are lacking. It’s much less exciting in terms of the acrobatics than some of the other shows.
But, as I said before, a show that is very well done and put together. I enjoyed it immensely.