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Theatre Review: Rouge

sydney theatre reviews


Director Elena Kirschbaum

Choreographer Paul Westbrook

Photo credit Belinda Rolland

Sydney Spiegeltent until December 17

Reviewed by Ron Lee

What would you expect to see in an X-Rated circus? Whatever has just jumped into your mind, you’re right.

Rouge, “a circus for grown ups”, has opened at the Sydney Spiegeltent.

From the moment the dancer with the mullet entered to welcome us, and swearing purely for affect, the show was going to be the same but different.

Sydney Spiegeltent

All of the routines are classic circus acts that you’ve seen many times. The trapeze, the large hoop, the chair stack, the hand stands, the two guys throwing a woman around and other ever-popular family favourites are there and they’re executed sensually, sexually and erotically.

The performers are highly trained, extremely skilled and experienced in acro dance and the circus arts. Paul Westbrook is a dancer and aerialist, Lizzie Patterson is an acrobat, Lyndon Johnson (not an exhumed former President) is an acrobat and aerialist and Maui Ryan is an acrobat and aerialist. Fortunately there was no fire routine this time. Probably a wise decision because the wooden Spiegeltent would go up like a tower of matches.

The soprano, Christine Ibrahim, who is surprisingly agile and flexible, performed an aerial silks routine while singing opera. Her stage presence reminded me of a cabaret singer friend, Boom Boom La Bern.

sydney chic theatre reviews

My favourite performer in the show, Jessie Mckibbin, innovatively performed a multiple lit-up hula hoop routine topless, and wearing a lampshade and a flashing crotch light. That’s how you take take a popular, familiar bit and change it up a few notches. Mckibbin’s S&M whip act was also engrossing.

Unless you want to give the kiddies an education, it might be best not to take them to see Rouge. There’s gratuitous swearing, full-frontal male nudity (and yes, that includes penis), simulated sex with various gender combinations and male-to-male passionate kissing.

I found Rouge to be engaging, entertaining and different, and the Sydney Spiegeltent is an ideal venue.

Rouge opening night sydney


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