Sunday, November 02, 2008

After the Fire

Although I live in Seoul, once or twice a month I make a pilgrimage to Bundang, my Mecca. Invariably, the next day I'm forced to take The Subway Ride of Shame home, because my girlfriend lives across town and I have no other choice but to take the train (take the train) from Jamsil. This, as you can probably gather, isn't pleasant, what with me looking and smelling, almost literally, like shit.

About a month ago, after a night of carousing in the 'Dang, I was standing on the platform at Jamsil Station, awaiting my aforementioned 40-minute-long Chinese water torture session with the Seoul Metro when I noticed an advertisement for the Cirque du Soleil's Alegria, performing in Seoul from October 18. I immediately -- or as immediately as my alcohol-riddled mind would allow me to -- called my girlfriend and told her we were going to see it, not because I actually wanted to go, but because I thought she'd enjoy the novelty of attending a world-renowned performance, if not the performance itself.

I, you see, am an ignoramus. I believed the Cirque du Soleil achieved its fame more from artsy-fartsy tedium disguised as deep art than from being genuinely interesting. Certainly, Alegria's Wikipedia entry helped verify my belief thusly:

The main theme of Alegría is the misuse of power, whether by kings, tyrants or dictators - but it is also about hope and perseverance. Through a glimpse of the horrors of our past and the great possibilities of our future, the show is intended to inspire us to be better individuals and to work together with our fellow man.

I'm not sure how some dude running around in a bird costume effectively conveys that theme, but whatever; because for all the pretentious tripe Cirque du Soleil spouts in its literature, they more than make up for it in actual spectacle. Cirque du Soleil's art isn't in its subtext, it's in what meets the eye -- and Christ on a bicycle is it amazing.

As I've said, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the show. I wasn't dreading it, of course, but I certainly wasn't looking forward to two-plus hours of -- I imagined, for some odd reason -- interpretive dance and makeup. And that's why I was pleasantly surprised (like a motherfuck) upon seeing what I've dubbed The Coolest Thing I've Ever Seen in My Life Apart From Naked Women.

I won't describe Alegria in detail, not because I'm lazy on a Sunday evening (though that plays a part), but because you truly have to be there, and none of my adjective-strewn, hyperbole-ridden praise can do it justice. If you live in Seoul or somewhere nearby, see the show before it leaves town. Trust me.

(And while I refuse to comment on the performance as a whole, you, Constant Retard, must know this: despite their feminine appearances, I thought the two Chinese synchronized contortionists were men, because, even from 15 meters away, I thought I could clearly see their male genitalia -- until, that is, I realized the girls could bend themselves backwards far enough that their pubic bones pressed up against their Lycra suits.)

I sat with my mouth agape, in awe, for two hours.

Cool; I fucking saw that.

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