Cirque du Soleil “Echo” at Atlantic Station. (Photos by Jacob Nguyen)

“Echo,” Cirque du Soleil’s first new show since the pandemic, has arrived at Atlantic Station under the giant big top visible from the Downtown Connector. The outside might look familiar, but inside is something completely different.

While the high-wire acrobatics and soaring music remain, the minimalist look of “Echo” is a far cry from last year’s “Kurios,” a steampunk fantasy that saw the stage crammed with various contraptions, set pieces, and costumed characters. However, the opening aesthetic of the show becomes something far more intriguing with the emergence of “the cube.” But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Like all Cirque shows, “Echo” has a very loose plot – or world – that is open to many interpretations. The audience is introduced to the protagonist, Future, and her dog companion who encounter the giant, shape-shifting cube. At first, it looks like a giant projection screen at the back of the ring, but then it floats out to the center and you realize it’s three-dimensional and the size of a two-story house.

As Future begins to interact with the cube, beautiful images of creatures and other worlds appear on its walls, then it opens up, twists, and falls apart and is rebuilt by the other acrobats, singers, musicians, and dancers who also find their way inside and out of the cube.

The humans discover that their actions around the cube have the power to reshape and rebuild the planet into a place filled with promise and hope. Both of those things are in short supply these days, so the non-political and non-preachy approach of making the world a better place is a welcome message this holiday season.

Some of the most memorable acrobatic sequences include two men attempting to stack blocks of the cube high into the rigging of the big top, while another features two wire walkers navigating inside the cube, which has been reduced to just its frame.

Perhaps the most memorable sequence is when the block opens and a giant red man – a giant marionette puppet – unfolds itself and stands upright in the ring. He appears to be from the future, maybe a new evolution of mankind and a sign of a brighter future ahead. Future flies up to stand on his hand and sit on his shoulder like Tinkerbell. You won’t forget it.

As with all Cirque shows, it’s perfect for families to attend and there were plenty of delighted children watching in awe. I felt like one of them.

“Echo” continues through Jan. 21 so there is plenty of time to grab tickets. There’s even a new VIP ticket that offers a meet and greet with the artists after the show. Get more information and tickets at this link.

Jacob Nguyen is a freelance writer and photographer in Atlanta.