Corteo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Cirque du Soleil's latest production, Corteo, sets the company's hallmark dreamlike imagery inside a dream--an aging clown's fantasy of his funeral procession. People and props are over- and undersized, objects mysteriously fall from above and sink, and there's lots of glitter. The gypsy characters and costumes conjure the show's plebeian roots in the streets of Quebec, but playful aerial work--at one point performers hang from chandeliers--epitomizes the company's daring high-wire tradition. In one scene six enormous helium balloons hoist a diminutive clown, the charming Valentyna Pahlevanyan; she's kept aloft as audience members bounce her along. Even for those immune to this pageant of acrobatic dancers and tumbling jugglers, there are plenty of "wow" moments (a man climbs a tall, freestanding ladder, two dueling men use a seesaw like a trampoline) and sweet, unexpected ones (a clown holding candles traverses a tightrope, upside down). More carnival of the moon than circus of the sun, Corteo turns morbid reverie into delightful spectacle. Through 8/20: Tue-Wed 8 PM, Thu-Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 1 and 5 PM, Thu 7/20, 8 PM only, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 800-678-5440, $35-$85, $143.50-$205 for "Tapis Rouge VIP Experience" (includes special seating, refreshments, and access to VIP lounge one hour before showtime).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marie-Reine Mattera.

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