×

Zed

It's no surprise that "Zed," Cirque du Soleil's first permanent Japanese show only bears fleeting resemblances to the Tarot-card work first put on the agenda.

With:
Zed - Reda Guerinik Shaman - David Baartman Abraka, Kernoon - Kevin Faraci Djinn - Seishi Inagaki Nouit, Erato - Johanna Lillivik Toth - Doug Meira

Longtime observers of Cirque du Soleil should be aware of two things by now: The show that the organization originally announces often bears little resemblance to the one it eventually delivers, and the quality of the project is closely related to the expertise of the director involved. So it’s no surprise that “Zed,” Cirque du Soleil’s first permanent Japanese show, which opened in Tokyo Oct. 1, only bears fleeting resemblances to the Tarot-card work first put on the agenda. A few strong visual images from that mystical deck are in evidence, but anyone fearing an entire evening of fortune-teller mumbo-jumbo can set his mind at ease.

The second important factor is the presence of Francois Girard as author-director of the piece. Girard is best known for his movies like “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould,” “The Red Violin” and “Silk,” but also has staged operas for the Canadian Opera Company.

He brings a sense of unified artistic vision to “Zed” that is stronger than that of any Cirque show since the legendary underwater spectacle “O” opened at the Bellagio in 1995. In fact, with most of the acts in “Zed” being of the aerial variety, you might say this show does for air what “O” did for water: People will be marveling over it for years to come.

Although none of the acts are that breathtaking in and of themselves (with the exception of one final sequence where 10 artists share four trapezes in a dizzying array that defies description), Girard has unified all the components with an artistry that is the show’s real secret.

More than any other Cirque show in recent memory, this one moves with a seamless grace that makes it seem like an organic piece of theater and not just a series of giant variety acts waiting for an Ed Sullivan to tie them all together.

Various hydraulic lifts under the stage move characters in and out, sweeping galleries along the back wall allow visions to appear and disappear with ease, and the musicians and vocalists — too often hidden away in Cirque shows — are placed front and center, where they give full value to Rene Dupere’s sweetly haunting score.

At the center of it all is a wide-eyed, white-maned harlequin named Zed, played with energy and innocence by Reda Guerinik. For once, we actually share in the wonder of his journey instead of feeling he’s merely a device to glue the scenes together.

Girard’s ultimate coup de theatre occurs in the finale, when he slowly introduces every character, every element of the show in a swirling pattern that is dazzling. Look how much you’ve seen, he seems to be saying; look how much life contains.

“Zed” is not the biggest or most spectacular show in Cirque’s long history, but it very well may be the most magical.

Popular on Variety

Zed

Cirque du Soleil Theater, Tokyo; 2,179 seats; 18,000 JPY $170 top

Production: A Cirque du Soleil presentation by arrangement with Disney Resorts Intl. of a show in two acts with book by Francois Girard. Director of creation, Line Tremblay. Composer and arranger, Rene Dupere. Directed by Girard.Choreography, Debra Brown, Jean-Jacques Pillet.

Crew: Set, Francois Seguin; costumes, Rene April; lighting, David Finn; sound, Francois Bergeron. Opened, reviewed Oct. 1, 2008. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

Cast: Zed - Reda Guerinik Shaman - David Baartman Abraka, Kernoon - Kevin Faraci Djinn - Seishi Inagaki Nouit, Erato - Johanna Lillivik Toth - Doug Meira

More Scene

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content