A circus for adults only, Rouge is a sexy show touring and currently playing at the Sydney Spiegeltent (House of Mirrors) at The Entertainment Quarter, Sydney. The intention was to create a show that represented what doesn’t often make it to the stage: queer relationships, female sexuality, kink, and non-binary characters. Rouge had it all and more, in a way that was very naughty but at times, unashamedly hilarious. As they intended,
“We wanted to make a show that followed the way we think about sex… if you are making a show about sex, let’s start with the fact that sex can be silly, and awkward, and messy. That relationships can be complex. That funny is sexy, and sex can be funny.”
The audience was encouraged to participate by screaming, clapping, and yelling out, whenever they felt the desire to communicate their enjoyment. And it didn’t let up for the entire 90-minute show run.
The six performers of the night were phenomenal and showcased their specialised circus talents with strength and flair. The boys, Paul Westbrook (dancer and aerialist), Lyndon Johnson (acrobat, aerialist), and Maui Ryan (acrobat, aerialist) were captivating to watch. And not only because they stripped down to practically nothing (one even having had his white briefs pulled down to his ankles), but because they were so hyper-focused on the incredible tricks yet had a wonderful playfulness that was irresistible to the crowd in attendance.
Paul Westbrook, who also played as our compere and naughty circus clown, was delightfully dirty. He commanded the audience, constantly flirting with one male audience member in particular and performed brilliantly. Westbrook is also the choreographer for Rouge and proves that he knows how to put on a good show.
The ladies included Lizzie Patterson (acrobat, dancer), Jessie McKibbin (multi-disciplinary circus artist), and Christine Ibrahim (singer). These performers are true performing artists, with incredible agility. Not only were there gorgeous hoops and whips, but these performers also balanced on beams and displayed some stunning ribbon work. They explored their own sexuality, out and proud, and even in the cheekiest ways (There was a number which involved lamp shades and David Guetta’s “Turn me on” ft. Nicki Minaj, that was a sure highlight).
Christine Ibrahim, who is a remarkable singer in her own right, also displayed some serious ribbon skills and effortlessly working through the aerial ring. It is not often that a performer is able to sing and perform these tricks at the same time, but she went and did it and was dazzling at both. Ibrahim really embodied the ethos of the night, taking pride in her female sexuality as well as being a triple threat performer.
Director, Elena Kirschbaum, also needs to be singled out. With some cameo appearances as the clean-up crew after the artists make a mess of the stage with each performance, it was great to see a physical presence on stage. What a brilliant vision come to life that is so inclusive on multiple levels. Kirschbaum has directed a show that is fun yet powerful, making everyone in attendance feel involved and integrated into the performance.
And so it goes, yes, there is nudity (more than you think) and yes there is a pile of coarse language. There is sex and more sex. So, when the creators of Rouge announce that this is a show for adults only (18+) there is a good reason for it. But do not be deterred. This reviewer brought her mother along and we had a great evening, laughing the whole way through.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Rouge is currently playing at the Sydney Spiegeltent (House of Mirrors) at the Entertainment Quarter until 17 December 2023. Tickets and more information are available HERE
This reviewer attended on opening night on 27 November 2023.
Header image credit: Alison-Catseye-Productions