DUST PALACE: With a Stranger

TAPAC - The Auckland Performing Arts Centre, Auckland

07/05/2013 - 22/05/2013

Oamaru Opera House, Oamaru

17/07/2014 - 18/07/2014

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

22/07/2014 - 23/07/2014

Production Details


BAR – There will be table service throughout the show, available on tab only – a credit card must be handed over to the bar manager on arrival.

$40 GA

Strangers who put themselves in the most intimate of configurations. Lovers, who in the most intimate of situations are like strangers. The incalculable risk of falling for the girl who believes herself to be invisible. The broken angel of a man. The choices we make are irrevocable.

What happens when human nature is challenged by circumstance?

With a strong influences from the style of revered Montreal circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main (The Seven Fingers of The Hand), The Dust Palace has created what it touts as ‘art house-circus’: a cabaret of short stories told in the striking language of carny.

New Zealand audiences are increasingly discerning when it comes to the art of circus and The Dust Palace aims to deliver a sophisticated experience that combines the electricity of the cabaret with the power of storytelling. Using their wealth of skills in aerial dance and circus acrobatics, combined with some serious acting skills … with a stranger… offers all the fun and adrenaline of a cabaret and all the heart of a well told story.

The star-studded cast of this charged exploration of human nature includes familiar faces Mike Edward (Shortland Street) and Eve Gordon (The Almighty Johnsons) alongside respected names within New Zealand’s burgeoning circus scene; including Zach Washer (finalist, The Golden Carnie Awards 2013), Edward Clendon, Rochelle Mangan and Geof Gilson.




Drama of meetings where anything can happen played out. 

In the latest circus-cabaret from Dust Palace, a breathtaking display of acrobatic finesse conjures up a spiralling sequence of images based on the capricious delights that come from risking an encounter with a stranger.

The company’s dedication to their craft is manifest in an ever-expanding repertoire of circus techniques, while the remarkable elasticity and strength of the performers testifies to a rigorous regime of training and exercise.

The show opens with Zach Washer taking his chances inside a large spinning hoop that amplifies the vertiginous acceleration that occurs when a spinning coin tilts.

Mike Edward introduces a touch of Chaplinesque humour as a workman taking on the Sisyphean task of ascending a silk rope that is constantly descending. His short-lived triumphs are inevitably followed by tumbling falls that leave him dangling upside down like the Hanged Man of Tarot.

A serious demonstration of athleticism comes as Edward and Eve Gordon strip down to their underpants for a duet that shows amazing strength, poise and flexibility.

A similar series of duets establish a lucid melancholy tone punctuated by moments of intimacy that celebrate the joys of fearless physicality.

In a sweetly flirtatious routine, Rochelle Mangan and Zach Washer use each other as mobile platforms for an exquisitely balanced series of yoga poses and in one of the show’s highlights the petite Rochelle Mangan is tossed and twirled between two partners like a rag doll.

The mood is enhanced by some artfully atmospheric lighting and a hypnotic soundtrack of indie style music featuring the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Bon Iver.

With cabaret-style seating and a well-stocked bar, the show offers an engagingly intimate circus experience with a distinctly art-house flavour. 

17/18 July 2014 – Oamaru Opera House 
22/23 July 2014 – Theatre Royal, Nelson

Eve Gordon, Mike Edward, Rachelle Mangan, Edward Clendon, Geoff Gilson, Adrian Smith

Producer Eve Gordon
Lighting Michael Craven

70 mins

Amazing – but why keep so much secret?

Review by Gail Tresidder 23rd Jul 2014

A programme, a programme, my kingdom for a programme – please, Dust Palace, allow for those amongst the audience who wish to know the names of the cast, what the music was and some hint towards what is doubtless a deep and meaningful evocation of life, love and the whole darn thing! 

OK – so the mimed plot is perhaps just a vehicle for the truly impressive timing, trust, athleticism and almost unbelievable feats on silks, hoop, rope and unlikely configurations of chairs.  There is grace in the movements and impressive power and trust between the performers.  There is no safety net. From a circus perspective, the cast give a seemingly flawless performance, amazing in fact! And yet – it could be so much more. 

The Lost Property of life and chance encounters, that much is understood.  But the subtle nuances, the meaning of most of the props that seem to be pulled in and out of the Lost Property box, strewn around the stage and then replaced unused, appear to be just a little stage business to give a breathing space to the performers.  Hurrah for the umbrella that serves a purpose – and the camera … The rest of it, well, we would like to know. 

The simple stage set actually showing the counter-weight ladder, chairs for sitting and stunning balancing acts, plus a touch of dry ice, works perfectly.  Sound effects are excellent and well-timed: ducks quacking, dogs barking, sea swishing and the knocks on an invisible door – memorable and they add to the ambience. 

Circus Theatre. Absolutely the circus delivers and wonderfully.  As for the theatre part of the performance, it needs bolstering.  It really does.  The audience knows that times are hard and costs prohibitive for theatre, especially when touring the country – and, for those of us living outside the main cities, please keep coming.  A tighter more coherent script costs nothing apart from work and time, plus a single printed sheet of plot, cast etc could make this production amazing and unforgettable.


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An Aerial Extravaganza

Review by Sharu Delilkan 10th Jun 2013

Arriving at TAPAC, which was dimly lit like a darkened bordello really helped set the tone for the evening from the get-go. This equally mysterious ambience was mirrored when you entered the theatre, adding to the excitement of what would ensue.

We have seen a number of circus cabaret shows in the last couple of years and last night’s performance of With a Stranger is evidence of why this artform is gaining in popularity. [More]


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