Carousel and Clothesline

Kings & Queens, Performing Arts Centre, Dunedin

20/03/2014 - 22/03/2014

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

08/04/2014 - 12/04/2014

Dunedin Fringe 2014

Production Details

Watch in wonder as a troupe of performers from all over the world perform breathtaking acrobatics in Carousel & Clothesline.

From tightropes to trapezes to magic and contortion, this boutique vagabond circus, created by alumni of the renowned Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize, brings the enchantment, humour and thrill of the big top to Auckland’s Herald Theatre this April.

A marriage of slapstick and skill that will certainly have you cracking a smile
Adelaide Now

Inspired by the everyday lives of circus performers, whose dreams of glamour and glitz can land them face-down in the sawdust with one misstep or slippery grip, Carousel & Clothesline will take you deep inside the fascinating and fanciful world of the travelling circus, where the spectacular and absurd exist side by side.

like watching sleight-of-hand card tricks just inches from your face, and marvelling even more about how it was done…- Herald Tribune (US)

Dunedin Fringe:  7.30pm

Price:   Online Tickets: A $35, C $20, F $75 Door Sales: A $40, C $25, F $85

Tickets:           A=Adults, C=Children, F=Family (2A, 2C), ph 0800 327 484 Online Tickets inc. booking fees (see p.6)

Website:          httpL://


Auckland season: 

8 and 9 April, 6.30pm, 10 – 12 April, 7.30pm
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre
$25.00 – $35.00

Spectacle , Circus ,

2 hrs

Infused with enchantment

Review by Candice Frankland 10th Apr 2014

Carousel and Clothesline is a high energy off-the-wall circus show that delivers as promised to “take you deep inside the fascinating and fanciful world of the travelling circus where the spectacular and absurd exist side by side”. Vague De Cirque doesn’t stop there, they infuse each exhilarating performance with well-developed enchanting and often times hilarious characterisation. 
An audience favourite was the Saturday Night Fever inspired acrobat act performed by Coen Clarke and Jason Fergusson adorned in white spandex bell bottoms and all their disco glory! Rather than repelling the crowd with his cheesy antics, Clarke draws sniggers and giggles while transforming his lifter Jason from a green and reluctant participant into a dancing queen.
Contrastingly,  Clarke displays a more stoic persona in the breathtaking balancing beam act which draws audible gasps from the audience. It was the excellent marrying of entrancing music (Run by Ludovico Einaudi) and elegant control that make this piece the jewel of the show. Even though this is one of the more serious and clearly more dangerous performances, the cast stays true to the humorous nature of the show and provide an abundance of momentary comic relief.
A special mention must be made of the hysterical and gaudy character portrayed by Philippe Thibaudeau whose comedic timing was flawless.
The ending came all too suddenly, and while the cast received a well deserved standing ovation, there is a difference between leaving the audience wanting more and leaving them just less than satisfied. Possibly one more fanciful display or encore would have hit the mark. 
The level of acting and characterisation as well as the precision of circus skills is of such a high standard that each could easily stand alone and leave audiences feeling gratified, but the coalescence of these two disciplines makes this show one of the best I’ve seen in its genre.


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Creating a space into one of limitless possibilities and dreams

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 23rd Mar 2014

Carousel and Clothesline is a piece of New Circus by Quebec-based company Vague de Cirque. Although the New Circus form pioneered in Quebec, France and Australia replaced animal acts with more character-based work, often with a political or queer edge, increasingly New Circus has been going back to its origins in old skool circus.

Carousel then is not a simple skills or act based piece. Every feat of acrobatics, juggling or aerial work is inflected by character or a particular scenario/take, making each section a small theatrical (and typically comical) sketch. Nevertheless, the piece is not that far from a traditional, pre-1970s circus, the opening even featuring all of the performers in early twentieth century acrobat outfits in a fetching, functional brown!

Performed in this instance within the high-ceiling venue of King and Queens schools’ theatre, the acts focus on acrobatics of some kind or other. Though a trapeze bar is lowered into the space at one point, it is used for an aerial acrobatic and contortionist act, rather than true flying trapeze. The only other aerial act is an impressive slack rope piece from the long limbed and super-flexible contortionist Emmaline Piatt. Some juggling is also thrown in to add some variety, notably a very simply and gently performed three-man act, with clubs crossing high over-head, along a plane in front of the middle juggler, and other simply arranged but attractive configurations.

In short, there is nothing especially out of the ordinary about the particular skills on display here. Anyone who goes to circus with a fair degree of regularity should be broadly familiar with the repertoire of material. 

What really distinguishes Vague de Cirque, apart from an extremely high level of proficiency, is the enormous good nature with which all the material is presented. Whilst not always going for laughs per se, the performers always seem to be beaming. This also gives great scope for more overt comic interjections, provided liberally by our hopelessly inept but ever confident, lanky M.C. Philippe Thibaudeau. The almost dangerous level of concentration and intensity which can accompany some circus and New Circus (some of the works of Australian company Acrobat spring to mind) is avoided, as is the tasteless kitsch styling and faux-artiness of the hugely over-rated Cirque de Soleil—let alone the cheap eroticism which this famous company repeatedly trades off.

Which is not to say that the performers in Carousel are not a bit of all right, but—as one perhaps might expect of a company coming out of French-speaking Canada—the women are suitably gamin, and the men’s sexiness usually so understated (or self-consciously parodied, as with our M.C.) that they are hardly macho either.

The exception though has to be one of the great highlights of Carousel, a wonderfully homoerotic disco-themed acrobat act performed by Coen Clarke—all John Travolta polyester and suggestive hip waggle—with his hapless, uncomfortable straight-man lifter Jason Fergusson. Even for a male heterosexual like myself, I must conclude that Clarke easily comes off as the most arousing of all the performers on stage 

Special mention should also be made of Thibaudeau as the MC. Channelling a combination of completely un-self-aware lounge lizard, Serge de Gainsborough at his most egotistical, and other French male chanson artists, the character could easily come across as the clown you love to hate, his rampant flirting with women on and off stage (appropriately signalled by his lame attempts to mimic a tiger), and his tendency to interrupt acts or generally get in the way, potentially alienating us from him.

Yet he always does so with a grin and an exaggerated, floppy shrug, such that the character’s lack of a proper self-perspective seems more endearing than repellent. He is also a man of unusual talents. At one point, with nothing to lead into this, he starts miming Sergio-Leone-style Westerns using tennis rackets and his own vocalisations of sound effects for spurs clinking and gunshots. The idea seems to come from nowhere, but is done so well and with such conviction it immediately transforms an already playful space into one of limitless possibilities and dreams 

In short, the real mastery of this piece is in how it does so much with so little, taking very slight inflections of fairly standard (albeit extremely difficult) material and really making it shine in a way which I, as a great fan of Australian and European New Circus, have rarely seen: a real highlight of the Fringe.



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