Tag: Liam DeJong

Review: Rouge

Oh Boy, Oh Girl, Oh Non-binary! Circus for grown ups

By Leeor Adar

Rouge is so white hot, my friend and I were squealing with delight, amazement and desire. It is just – that – good. It is also downright naughty, and if a little bit of kink is your thing, this show will deliver all the kicks and kink of your dreams.

The group, Issie Hart, Paul Westbrook, Lyndon Johnson, Jessie Mckibbin, Maddy Burleigh and Liam deJong, have toured Rouge internationally and thankfully brought their extraordinary arsenal of talent and skill to the circus ring of Melbourne’s Wonderland Spiegeltent.

Rouge isn’t your ordinary adult circus show. The breathtaking operatic vocals of Hart propel the work into unique territory. The mix of opera and circus art conjures up an old-world aesthetic whilst breaking modern boundaries. The audience is both delighted and surprised at the contents of the show, affirming that circus of this calibre will always draw the crowds.

Every artist in this show is a master of their craft, and each of them bring their own flair and character to the work. Westbrook’s camp black swan vibe is a riot, and the audience clearly loves the playful character he brings to the stage. Westbrook and Johnson perform an S&M-inspired tangle of love on the ropes with such ardour that you can’t look away. In terms of incredible pairings, Burleigh’s fluidity and control as she performs stunning tableaus with deJong is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Another stand out is Mckibbin’s fire-twirling, which is truly smoking hot. There is another routine featuring Mckibbin and three of the male performers that is whip-crackingly decadent, so that is a surprise I will leave for the audiences …

Prepare yourselves to be delighted by dancing lampshades, thumping beats, and every deviant indulgence you could endure, all served tongue-in-cheek. The inclusivity of the night meant that anyone and everyone could enjoy the sexiness of the show and unashamedly laugh, smile and swoon with abandon. It doesn’t hurt they serve up some delicious cocktails to boot – it really is good to be a grown up sometimes!

Tickets available: https://www.wonderlandspiegeltent.com.au/ticketing?/event/rouge/a4e28589-bc44-404e-9330-95a5fda4f522/

Photography by Jodie Hutchinson





REVIEW: Shakespeare in the Gardens with MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Lost in the Dream

By Warwick Moffat

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Mustard Seed (Mia Landgren) and Puck (Arky Elston)

The evening had three elements. Firstly, the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens at night, as ushers spotted spaces amongst fellow revellers where your own blanket might rest. For those bodies (like mine) which strain when too far removed from modernity, chairs are for hire. It was a welcome respite from the working day. Secondly, there is the play. It was declared that we were there to be entertained and every effort was made to ensure we were. The efforts of the cast and crew were expertly directed by Glenn Elston; the audience appeared truly lost in the world created for them.

Thirdly, and for me this was the most memorable element, every opportunity was taken to use the garden to highlight the play’s key themes. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream warns of how natural forces can influence human passion and endeavour. The slight and thankfully brief evening shower seemed to be Nature’s own foreword. When Titania (Shireen Morris) bellowed her intent to utilise the wind, the weather even obliged on cue and Morris’s performance as the fairy queen deserved this compliment.

The setting and performances skilfully brought out the animalism within this comedy, where other companies have sadly missed it. Impressive acrobatics (especially Tamika Ball and Liam DeJong), and dance impressed upon us the wildness and sensuality of the woods inhabitants. When the Athenians entered this world, it magnified their all-too-human qualities and made their descent under Puck’s (Arky Elston) bungled spells all the more believable. When the lightshow, the trees and the music of Paul Norton combined during the casting of spells, I became overwhelmed by this realm where natural forces and human intent meet. Elston made Shakespeare’s trickster his own, through physical comedy and a distinct Gen-Y sensibility.

The tradesmen were excellent (Hugh Sexton, Simon Mallory, Ross Williams, Kevin Hopkins and Anthony Rive). Any clown can be silly: these clowns had a depth of character that left the audience laughing but also empathising with their faults. Mallory’s Bottom was not just an Ass; he was a brilliantly cringe-worthy ham, whose need for approval left you wanting to organise a group hug. William’s Snug gets my vote overall, so frustratingly dense and yet so sweet that you would never dare yell at him. That being said, the entire cast performed with flair and enthusiasm.

The Australian Shakespeare Company delivers Dream with the maturity of a troupe who are, after all, celebrating their twenty-fifth year in the Gardens. This comic spectacle has a vitality which comes with never taking your audience for granted.

Dates: 21 Dec 2013 – 15 Mar 2014.

Location: Southern Cross Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Enter through Observatory Gate on Birdwood Ave. Gates open 90 minutes prior.

Times (for Feb 11 2014 to Mar 15 2014): Tue to Sat at 8pm.

Tickets: $25-$45

Bookings: 03 8676 7511 or www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au or Ticketmaster 136 100.

What to bring: Pack a picnic, a blanket or cushions to sit on and insect repellent.

Review: NICA’s Leap of Faith

Stunning circus spectacular

By Christine Moffat

Circus is a curious thing. If attempting to describe it to someone who knew no better, you might say “Circus is when a group of very bendy, strong people do amazingly dangerous things while other people applaud”.

Leap of Faith

It’s a true statement, but your friend would be no wiser. NICA‘s Leap of Faith: Circus in Motion showcases the talents of just such a group: the skilful and flexible graduating students of 2013 to be precise.

Often circus cannot be viewed as traditional theatre, but must be consumed for its spectacle and variety. This is the case for Leap of Faith. There is no plot or overarching message or connection, just 24 amazing performers trying to entertain and impress – and they did. The art of circus is ancient, and it must be difficult for a performer to express themselves in fresh and entertaining ways. All of the performers managed great modern interpretations with their routines.

The entire cast were amazing to watch, and each of them deserves a successful career in circus. That being said, there were some definite standouts on the night. Emeline Dunnand was adorable and funny as the evening’s clown/mime. Anna Murray and Tessa Wilson were fabulously entertaining with their deceptively simply-named “Handstands on Chairs” routine. Nick Rothlisberger (trapeze), Yonnas Gebremedhin (juggling), Danny Golding (swinging pole) and Liam DeJong and Tamika Ball (Adagio) all elicited many ‘ooooohs’, ‘aaahhhs’, chuckles and rapt applause from the appreciative audience.

The evening was longer than the advertised 70 minutes, clocking in at 2 hours including interval. As the performance forms part of the students’ assessment in their Bachelor of Circus, it would be difficult to shorten. This reviewer recommends an early dinner or lunch before the show, so your attention can stay on the stage and the incredible acts being performed.

There was barely a hint that the show was an assessment piece; the work was certainly at professional level. This is no mean feat as performing for an audience and for assessment must equal double the stress. The class of 2013 appear to be young and strong, creative and fearless, and ready to take their own Leap of Faith into the professional circus world.

Leap of Faith: Circus in Motion

Directed by Mathew Jessner


NICA National Circus Centre

41 Green Street, Prahran

Dates & Times:

6-13 April 2013

Evenings: 6 April, 10 – 13 April 7pm

Matinees: 11 – 13 April 1.30pm

Price: $30 Adult, $25 Concession, $20 Child >16, $80 Family (2 Adults, 2 Children)

Bookings: www.nica.com.au