Rouge is probably the circus that Cirque du Soleil wishes it was. This incredible and indefatigable six-strong team, headed up by award-winning opera singer, Issie Hart, are a force of nature and burst onto the stage of the Spiegeltent at the Meadows Circus Hub like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz and transport the entire audience to a technicolor world of amazing feats.
Billed as a ‘circus for grown ups’ there is, as might be expected, a little mild nudity and some more ‘adult themed’ humour during the night, like the multi-talented Jessie Mckibbin wearing a carrot for a strap-on while she slices roses held between the legs of the three male performers with a bull whip. But, for this reviewer at any rate, the real meaning behind this wording is a quality guarantee and a promise that today’s show will be free of mainstream circus’ standard menu of banal clowning and lame acrobatics that children are supposed to be impressed by.
For tonight at Rouge, as the show’s 60 brief minutes fly by like lightning, we have a cornucopia of fire eating and hula girls and breathtaking death-defying trapeze and high wire work; live opera and cabaret singing; a myriad of imaginative costumes that glitter in the spotlights like thousands of sequins; boys and girls flying through the air as if they’re weightless and an unceasing barrage of camp humour and sophisticated – if highly risqué – clowning.
Rouge are diva Issie Hart, Paul Westbrook, Lyndon Johnson, Jessie Mckibbin, Madison Burleigh and Liam deJong who together redefine what circus is and should be in an arena where all sexual identities are welcomed and encouraged and anything goes when it comes to stunts and humour.
You will leave with your throat hoarse from cheering and your hands sore from clapping.