The tent, taut white canvas rippled with blue, looks deceptively small from the outside. You wouldn’t know, from a cursory glance, that a whole other world is contained within.
The big top at Marymoor Park, where Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría runs through March 13, evokes the pageantry and spectacle of carnivals of yore, the purplish shadows clinging to the ceiling and the sparkle of stage lights against metal creating the distinct impression that one has fallen into the realm of the fae. This impression of otherworldliness is only furthered, as it becomes clear that such trivial matters as the laws of physics don’t seem to apply here.
Typical of a Cirque du Soleil production, the plot of Alegría is painted in broad strokes; a declining kingdom, blighted by the decadence of its upper class and ripe with the discontent of the masses, is rocked by civil unrest as the late king’s fool attempts, clumsily, to seize power. The story is, of course, secondary to the implausible feats of acrobatics, fire eating, and aerial dance that are the main attraction.
The clowns are a highlight of the show, which, to put this in context, means a lot coming from me—someone who would typically place clowns somewhere between “using a leaf blower at 6:30 in the morning” and “war crimes” on the scale of evil. The show is appropriate for all ages and would revitalize even the most grizzled clown skeptic's sense of childlike wonder.