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The French Surrender Again


Up in the Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, there's this great theater that used to be called the Kodak but is now called the Dolby. It's where they do the Academy Awards and lately, the only other thing in the place has been a Cirque du Soleil show called Iris. For some reason, that seems to be pronounced "ear-reese."

The show cost a fortune to open there, some of which came in the form of a loan from the city. We'll be hearing more about that. it was supposed to stay there 'til just past forever but recently announced a closing date of January 19. Why the disappointing run? Most folks seem to be blaming high ticket prices and I think that's likely it. Cirque du Soleil shows, as wonderful as they can be, do have a way of making you feel someone is picking your pocket. Atop steep costs to buy tix often come pushy V.I.P. upgrade offers, expensive refreshments, more expensive souvenirs and sometimes parking prices that are higher than any Cirque acrobat. In a fragile economy, it's gotta be tough for many families to justify the expense.

Carolyn got tickets for last night as a bonus for making a donation to Public Radio. Obviously, since biz is bad, the Cirque folks are making deals to sell them in bulk. We had pretty good seats and the place was not packed.

Price tag aside, there's nothing wrong with Iris except that it's a lot of the usual physical feats woven awkwardly into some sort of vague salute to moviemaking. People fly on trapeze-like contraptions and fabric ropes over your heads. Others do impossible leaps and flips. There is music by Danny Elfman. There are great sets and costumes that truly do range from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are clowns. Some of this has something to do with movies.

I could have done with less of the clowns and more of the amazing women who literally bend over backwards to please us, doing impossible balancing feats with impossible postures. I also really liked a troupe of men, some of whom balanced others on their feet.

But in terms of physical wonders, there didn't seem to be anything I hadn't seen before, making me wonder (again) if the Cirque folks just aren't spreading themselves wafer-thin. They still have the ability to dazzle me but they've lost that wonderful capability they once had to surprise. If you're in L.A. before it stops, look around and see if you can score some great discount tickets. If you can, it's a great show.

[P.S., added hours later: Yes, I know Cirque Du Soleil is French-Canadian, based in Quebec, not French as in "French surrender monkeys."  The headline was just a joke.]