Last night my friends in New York found themselves at a surprise Green Day Halloween spectacular. I'm less cool and live on the opposite side of the country, so I has to get my yayas out by seeing LA's newest import, Cirque Du Soleil's Iris. Visually, this thing was insane. My eyes were on overdrive. I literally gasped several times. And then there were these guys:
I mean, COME ON!
I was totally into it. And then my mother, while on our catch-up phone call, asked me this crazy question. She asked if it was good.
And I really didn't know.
Is what these people do amazing? No question. But is it anything more than a circus act? The attempt at a story, at characters and a distinct world, imply that it wants to be. There is a protagonist, the Chaplin-esque Buster, who longs for the beautiful Scarlett. She likes him too, it seems, but is controlled by an inaudible French man who wants to make her a star. There are other zany characters, like a man who uses his hair as a whip and a woman with a zoetrope skirt but I'm not sure the function they serve. There is also a screenwriter who decides he needs to dress in drag to become a star. That gets a lot of laughs, but it makes absolutely no sense. Unless you are in a Robin Williams' movie.
In the middle of all this, people who appear to have no spines or are super human stack themselves on top of each other or fly through the air. And sure, it is AWESOME but I have no idea what it has to do with anything. I also have no idea how, other than costumes and the set, it sets itself apart from any other Cirque Du Soleil show. So is it good? No, I really don't think it is. But does it matter? No, I really don't think it does.
Like super peppy pop music or teen stoner movies, some areas of pop culture don't have to be amazing to draw and audience and serve their purpose. They just are what they are and they embrace that. Which, I kind of respect. So while I don't think Iris was great theater, I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone. It's fun. You'll watch, you won't think and you'll like it. Because in the end, they can still do this:
And you can't.