I’ve seen Ka five times. I’d see it again. Ka is pure adventure, filtered through the creative minds behind Cirque du Soleil. While most Cirque shows are simply a collection of acts strung together by a basic concept, Ka has an actual storyline to follow. The title of the show comes from the ancient Egyptian concept of duality, or having a spiritual double. The show, therefore, centers around a set of imperial twins, who are separated by tribal rivalry and must fight their way back to each other, while also undergoing a journey of self-discovery. Throughout the show, they encounter Ka, the fire that can either destroy or illuminate.

To my mind, the storyline is beside the point. The wonder of the show lies in the physical feats performed by the amazing gymnasts and actors, and in the technical features of the show, which are truly unbelievable.

 To really understand the most amazing aspects of the show, you have to know about the stage itself. There actually IS no stage - at least not in the conventional sense. When you first walk into the theater, all you see in place of the stage, is a huge black pit. There are clouds of smoke, lit by red, orange and yellow lights, and every so often a large fireball shoots up from the pit, surprising the audience. When the show begins, the main stage platform, measuring about 1300 square feet, rises upwards out of the pit. This platform, called the Sand Cliff Deck, can rotate 360 degrees and can tilt to any angle, from flat to 100 degrees, and weighs 50 tons! In addition to the main stage, there is a smaller platform upstage, called the Tatami Deck, which can function on its own or slide forward to join the larger deck. There are various other platforms in the front or on either side to help create an enormous, expansive playing area downstage.

 As the show begins, the main stage floats up out of the darkness. It is the royal barge, carrying the twin brother and sister, along with other cast members, who are “rowing” the ship back home. The ship docks, the Tatami deck slides out to join the main stage and the royal family welcomes the twins with a lively celebration, featuring wild gymnastics and “spears” being tossed and kicked around in every direction. The pageant is interrupted by a rival tribe of archers, who attack the royal family, shooting arrows and killing the Emperor and Empress.

The twins escape - the boy on foot, accompanied by the Court Jester, and the girl on a boat, along with her nursemaid. The boat is actually a large rocking platform and the destruction of the boat in stormy waters is an amazing piece of stagecraft, as it rocks back and forth, spins, and throws members of the imperial court off into the pit. As the lights go down and a scrim descends, the nursemaid is shown sinking beneath the water. The actress is actually on a wire, being lowered from the top of the stage, as projected bubbles float upwards, The Twin Sister “swims” down to save her, and the effect is mesmerizing.

The rest of the journey features the survivors of the shipwreck waking on a beach, where they meet giant sea creatures portrayed by contortionists in costume, the Court Jester and Twin Brother hiding in a cave and creating shadow puppets, and a climb up an icy mountainside, interrupted by the archers who once again attempt to capture the Twin Sister - the main stage spins wildly at a 90 degree angle while the archers use their arrows to climb to the top. There’s a daring aerial escape, and a visit to a huge forest, populated by oversized insect puppets, an 80 foot long snake and other magical creatures.

 At times, the action shifts to the Archer’s Den, where they’re plotting the takeover of the entire Empire. The Evil Counselor, is building a Death Machine to torture and kill their captives. The sequence involving the slaves navigating this machine is an astonishing feet of circus art, featuring two performers spinning vertically on an armature with a wheel at each end. They balance and walk along the outside of the wheels, flail and nearly fall on the inside of the wheels and even jump rope while balancing. It’s breathtaking.

 The final battle between good and evil takes place with all of the performers on wires, fighting on the main stage, which is tilted up to a 100 degree angle. The effect, as you watch it, is that you’re seeing the entire battle from above. You literally have a bird’s eye view! I’ve never seen anything like this final battle sequence. This is a jaw-dropping piece of theater!

 In the end, the bad guys are defeated and the good guys prevail. The twins are happily reunited and the archers vow to make peace. There is a final pageant and the show ends as it started: with a celebration!

Now, I’ve tried here to describe the show and convey the sheer fun, adventure and size of it all, without giving too much away, but trust me: NOTHING can prepare you for the scope of Ka! On one of my trips, several friends of mine joined me in seeing the show, and I didn’t hear a sound out of them during the entire performance. I was concerned that they hadn’t liked it as much as I. The truth of the matter was that they had literally been shocked into silence. Ka had absolutely blown their minds. One of my friends told me that with this particular show, Cirque du Soleil had raised the bar for stage productions everywhere.

 From the pre-show, where cast members in costume drop from the ceiling or swing out over the audience on ropes, to the show’s music enveloping you from speakers embedded in the headrests of every seat, to the Mad Max/post apocalyptic style sets that extend off the stage and into the house, Ka strives to immerse the audience in the world portrayed in the show. While you’re watching Ka, Las Vegas disappears for a little while.

 I should tell you that the tickets are pricey, but the theater is very well designed, so even if you go for the cheaper seats toward the back or sides of the house, you’ll still see all of the action and feel a part of the show. As a former lighting designer myself, I actually prefer sitting a little further back, because it allows me to see the entire picture, rather than just the action taking place right in front of me.

 Still, whichever you choose, if you decide to see Ka, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. While you’re in Las Vegas, if you have the chance, I suggest that you get yourself over to the MGM Grand and get lost in the world of Ka!