Photo by Jodie Hutchinson

Raunchy and Darkly Talented Night at The Circus for Grown Ups

The Wonderland Spiegeltent, Federation Square, Tuesday October 1st

reviewed by Caterina Kuljis

Billed as the tongue-in-check circus for grown ups, ROUGE showcases a smorgasbord of cirque acrobatic, operatic and dance theatrical pieces laced with a rich assortment of downright naughty, raunchy and decadent acts.

Issy Hertaeg

ROUGE weaves it’s eclectic web with a gang of six talented performers flaunting eye candy and body sculpture to be adored.  In the first act there is not a dull moment as the energetic acts roll from one to the other delivering a medley of adagio, chair balancing, tumbling, hoops, cyr wheel, aerial bar and aerial hoop, high ropes, operatic melodies and magic. There is also a great mix of humour with cheeky innuendo that has the audience roaring with laughter, such as the lamp shade, “turn me on”e.

With a colour motif of red, the colour red is used rolling through each item in Act 1, accompanied to upbeat rhythms that have you toe tapping and grooving in your seats. At the end of the first act, you are left wanting more. The announcement states “we hope you enjoyed the foreplay” which is a deliberate appropriate closing statement!

The second act changes direction from cirque mainstream entertainment to a whole other side of ‘adult playtime’ lined with leather, lace and lycra and explores the ‘fringes’ of sexuality and crossing boundaries. ROUGE is coated with the darker side of naughty. Gone is the red as they move to black. ROUGE’s second act rolls through a rougher rope male duo, hot fire twirling, triple adagio, play on dance and partner swapping, whipping roses to leather cladded unicorns with a climactic yet hilarious operatic performance. If you err on the side of conservatism, ROUGE requires you to bring an open mind as there are full nudity scenes and explicit adult themes.

There is such a stark difference between the content and delivery of Act I and Act II one to act two, I found myself questioning why it needed to be so extreme? Was it that ROUGE wanted the shock factor or that the artistic directors were passionate about their message. To throw my suggestion into the ring, I personally would have preferred to see a mixing of the performances between the two acts, as it would still be just as entertaining and yet still have the power of sending the overlaying message to embrace and accept all genders and sexuality.

The performance team comprising of Issa Hart, Paul Westbrook, Lyndon Johnson, Madison (Maddy) Burleigh, Liam deJong, and Jessie Mckibbon clicked together and their skillset can be highly commended. There were a few missed moments, however this can be excused as the intensity and level of difficulty of each act is elite. This, coupled with the diverse physical strengths, skills and flexibility showcased a high calibre of talent by all the performers.

On a special note; the cyr wheel duo (Lyndon Johnson & Jessie Mckibbon) moulded together so gracefully; the fire breathing act radiated some ‘heat’; and the adagio and aerial acts were effortless (Paul Westbrook, Lyndon Johnson, Maddy Burleigh, Liam deJong, Jessie Mckibbon).  This is a testament to their trust and expertise with their partners. My highlight was Issie Hart’s opera vocal range and theatrical presence – she is magnificent and sublime!

Overall the show is entertaining on many levels, and most definitely for adults only with a an open mind!

Read more about ROUGE here

ROUGE  (18+yrs)

Tues 1 Oct – Sat 5 Oct
Wonderland Spiegeltent at Federation Square, Melbourne

Wed 23 Oct – Sat 26 Oct
Canberra Theatre Centre