The first thing you notice when sitting down for Amaluna is that everything seems bigger. The stage, usually a “center ring” under the big top is much bigger than usual and set designer Scott Pask upped the drama, with a jungle of what looks like tall blades of grass interwoven together all along the back.
Dramatic is a great word to describe most of Amaluna. Whereas most Cirque shows are a compilation of death-defying stunts loosely woven together through a sometimes-obscure story, Amaluna is rockin’, female centric, retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, where acrobatics and dance are not just gimmicks, but are actually there to move the plotline along.
Another key theme of the show is the strength of women. With an all female band providing the music, including two shedding guitarists, and a core of women highlighted in most of the acts, the entire show evokes a feeling of femininity and strength.
Amaluna opens on a mysterious Amazonian like island. The Goddess of the island is directing a coming of age ceremony for her daughter when she is interrupted by a storm and subsequent shipwreck. Amongst the survivors is Romeo, the man who wins the love of the Goddesses daughter Miranda by displaying various feats of strength to woo her.
While Amaluna is not heavy on the death-defying stunts, you will still be wowed by the beauty and grace of each performance. Some of the standout highlights include a sensual arial, balance and waterbowl dance performed by Miranda as she expresses her feelings for Romeo, who finally joins her in the water for a first kiss.
Perhaps the most unusual and captivating act came at the start of the second half of the show. A Goddess, draped in gold begins a slow and methodical sequence of movements where she balances palm leaf ribs in an intersecting pattern to create a delicately balanced mobile that grows in size and complexity with every movement. The audience was dead silent and completely enraptured by the balance and harmony created on stage. The finished sculpture is breathtaking, and you can hardly believe that it is really balanced the way it is, until one small rib is removed and the entire thing comes crashing down.
As the story progresses, Miranda and Romeo’s love is put to the test when an island lizard man has Miranda abducted and imprisons Romeo. In the end, Miranda’s mother frees them both and a celebration of love plays out on stage with all the performers coming together for a spectacular finale.
Amaluna is a refreshingly entertaining addition to the lineup of Cirque du Soliel shows and is definitely worth the trip to San Francisco for theater and circus lovers alike. Amaluna is playing under the Big Top at Oracle Park in San Francisco from November 3, 2019 through January 12, 2020. Tickets are available at: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/san-francisco/amaluna/buy-tickets