Fly Palmy Arena, Palmerston North

05/12/2020 - 05/12/2020

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

26/11/2015 - 11/12/2015

Production Details

Playwright & physical performance specialists create cirque cabaret from famous poem. 

The past meets the future in ITHACA, a sci-fi cirque cabaret retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.

In this evening of hyperdrive suspense and cosmic decadence, the audience will be taken on a spectacular journey of intergalactic proportions.

Athletes and performers from Aotearoa’s leading cirque company, The Dust Palace, will once again be in Palmerston North on December 5, after the success of their previous 2018 show, Le Cirque Volé.

Don’t miss this one-night-only opportunity to see a world-class performance in Palmerston North, at Fly Palmy Arena.

It will be a wild ride with super-human feats, cirque artistry and sci-fi wonder, all encased in a love story for the ages.

Gourmet plated three course meal
Four-hour premium beverage package
Early venue entry
Pre-show entertainment
Corporate Suite
Premium suite for up to 40 guests – $4,120 + GST

Premium balcony seating
Exclusive suite access
Early venue entry
Pre-show entertainment
Catering and beverage packages are an additional cost for the corporate suites and can be oragnised directly with Absolute Caterers.

  • Gold Child/Senior: $41.50
  • Gold Adult: $72.00
  • Platinum Child/Senior: $51.50
  • Platinum Adult: $92.00
  • Corporate Table – Table of 8: $1,824.00
  • Bookings:


Ithaca is international quality and the performances are world class.  The show uses the whole theatre space and the audience is scattered amongst the set on tables of six with wine and food.  The performance is physical and aerial, the story is told around and above you.  It’s intimate, present… and palpable,” says Graham.


“The story is unmistakably Odyssey, it’s the quintessential love story but we’ve had some fun with it,” says Mike Edward who plays leading man, Odysseus.

“It details Odysseus’ journey back from the Trojan War to Ithaca to be with his true love, Penelope but instead of it being in ancient Greece, we decided to set it in the future and in space instead.”

“I take many lovers on the journey and one of my female flings is played by a man.  We decided to cast Ed in the role to challenge some stereotypes about love… which will be interesting.”

The emphasis on story told through cirque-style performance is The Dust Palace’s point of difference, according to Eve Gordon.

“We are often referred to as NZ’s Cirque du Soleil – which is incredibly flattering – but because we are a theatre company our primary focus is on story telling using skill.  Story is everything.  It’s why people watch the news or soap operas, read a book or go on Facebook,” explains Gordon. 

“When extraordinary performers communicate with an audience by pushing the limits of their physical and cognitive abilities it creates this sensory, engaging, magical experience… that’s pretty much why we get up in the morning!”


The Dust Palace commissioned multi-award winning Kiwi playwright, Thomas Sainsbury to adapt Odyssey for physical performance.

Sainsbury recently told the NZ Herald that it was challenging, “It was such a different way of working that my brain couldn’t marry cirque with story-telling.”  “At first I thought cirque was kind of like gymnastics but I’ve quickly learned how much more intricate it is and what a beautiful art-form it can be to tell stories in a different way.”


The Dust Palace invited two of the country’s most respected musicians, Matthias Jordan and Jol Mullholand to create the soundtrack for Ithaca.  The pair decided to adapt three Johnny Cash classics – Rusty Cage, I See A Darkness and A Thing Called Love plus The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which Cash made famous – and will play them live during the show.

“For the music to work with dramatic aerial acrobatics we had to change the pace of the music so we decided to replace the laid-back country sound with mid-1980s synth… you might think that’s weird but it works,” says Matthias Jordan.

Auckland premiere seson  Nov 26th to Dec 11th  2015
Show Details: 
Show Tickets: 
Show Video (30 seconds):
Box Office: or 09 309 9771 
*R18 (recommended for viewers 18 years of age +) show contains partial nudity

Theatre , Spectacle , Physical , Multi-discipline , Cirque-aerial-theatre ,

3 hours

Jaw-dropping, spellbinding stadium spectacular

Review by Richard Mays 09th Dec 2020

Never let a great story get in the way of showcasing astonishing physical strength, skill and endurance, effortless athleticism and agility, uncompromising skill and coordination or outstanding virtuosity.  

And how about the accompanying lightshow, projections and lighting; the pulsing pounding music track, the pageantry and tableaux; the costumes, the props, the ropes, ribbons, silks, hoops, chair stacks; suspended cages, ladders and frames. Oh my!

Inside the cavernous Fly Palmy Arena, Greek legend collides with space opera via Cirque de Soleil in the epic human-powered gravity and vertigo-defying Dust Palace sci-fi reset of Homer’s Odyssey.

It’s an audacious live mash-up featuring elements of Star Trek, Star Wars, Red Dwarf and Guardians of the Galaxy.

So what if a few details get changed, rearranged or condensed in the telling? This is outer space, man.

Homer’s story – colossal though it is – is simply a means to frame Herculean feats of aerial artistry and dramatic beauty, while showcasing high-level production values on a grand theatrical scale.

Captaining the starship Argo – a vessel he has somehow managed to commandeer from Jason of Golden Fleece fame – Odysseus is hopping across the galaxy to his home-world of Ithaca and the arms of wife Penelope.

Nik Taz Davies’ swaggering, easily distracted, gung-ho Odysseus can’t help stopping off at planets along the way.

Nor can he turn down the temptation to steal from the Lotus Eaters or from Polyphemus the giant cyclops; or resist the allure of interstellar sirens and the charms of beautiful bewitching alien sorceresses.

There’s Xerse who has the power to turn men into goats – sorry, I first thought they were rabbits – pigs in the original, but goats did have far more appeal.

It was an unheralded bonus to have enchanting chanteuse Jackie Clarke add her formidable vocal range as Calypso, the mage who keeps Odysseus in lockdown for seven years.

In his absence Eve Gordon’s Penelope – the true star of the show – is in Ithaca fending off suitors on every three-dimensional spatial plane.

The petite Gordon’s heroic jaw-dropping suspended ladder and trapezeless aerial routine with Geoff Gilson and André de Jong epitomise the outstanding commitment of this troupe to push boundaries – especially if they are high up near the vaulting roof beams.

Along the way Paul Fagamalo overcame early mic problems to establish a physical and vocal presence as Antero, first mate to Odysseus.

The saga also shows off the improbable contortions of Rochelle Mangan as the krakenesque Scylla in the Deadlands Bar after Odysseus and his crew have been sucked through the Argo airlock and out into the weightless suspension of space.

High in a hanging cage, Edward Clendon as Tiresias the tortured seer delivers more seemingly impossible aerial gyrations, which are followed by a dizzying encounter with the whirlpool Charybdis.

The full cast-adagio leading to the finale provided a stunning choreographed display of physicality and timing.

Why use props when there are ensemble members who can be swung, dropped, caught, whirled, juggled, flipped and flung with such apparent ease.

The ambitious evolution of Ithaca into a big top stadium event from its 2015 origins has built on the 2018 Fly Palmy Arena experience of the company’s Le Cirque Volé.

The irrepressible Gordon and fellow Dust Palace director Mike Edward were also performers that year for Club Cabaret at Palmy’s Centrepoint Theatre, which truly provided an up-close aerial circus experience.

While the overall artistic vision, application, talent, technical sophistication and teamwork of Ithaca is worthy of acclaim, some areas of the auditorium were too far from the action for the scenes to be fully appreciated.

Some of the on-the-ground exposition could also be clearer.  An otherworldly voiceover narration would do it.

Thankfully, there was a glossy programme to link the spellbinding, breath-holding set-piece episodes and explain the whos, whys and wherefores of the narrative.

Still, as wow-factor stadium spectacular, Ithaca offers a magnificent way to celebrate our post-covid freedoms, with Homer’s Odyssey a fitting metaphor for the upsy-downy journey so far. 

[This review was commissioned for Broadway World NZ and is reproduced with permission.] 


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Fantasy and escapism

Review by Tania Kopytko 06th Dec 2020

Cirque cabaret is an edgy theatrical form and Auckland based Dust Palace have certainly found their own distinct, highly physical, powerful, alternative, slightly feral style in the show Ithaca.

They have also found a very strong following in Palmerston North, enjoying a very large and loudly cheering crowd at the Arena. People were out for a good time and Dust Palace delivered to them.

Described as sci-fi cirque, Ithaca is based loosely on Homer’s tale of Odysseus’s adventurous travels and his eventual twenty-year return to his beloved Penelope.  Produced by Dust Palace stalwarts Eve Gordon and Geoff Gilson, this is a long show in two acts, with nine scenes in each.

Each scene is themed on an incident in the epic journey, which allows different opportunities to show the skills of hanging, swinging, twisting and falling from ropes or silks, contortion and other incredible gravity defying balance and strength movements.

Ithaca is set in the sci-fi future, with the warrior and his motley crew navigating interstellar space. The sci-fi effect is particularly created by the lighting design (Michael Craven, lighting and Jason Allen, lasers) which uses lasers and other vibrant effects and the variety in the soundscape (Carawei Gao). Costuming (Jaine Mieka, Ellyce Bisson and Eve Gordon) is a blend of fantastical and retro and reveals enough of the rippling, muscled male and female acrobatic bodies, to ensure we know the cast are indeed the great gods of the super-world, endowed with super human strength and endurance. 

Stand out scenes are The Lotus Eaters (Jaine Mieka, Edward Clendon, Mary Piggin, Ellyce Bisson and Reuel Terezakis) with its evocative bird song score and four aerialists spinning and performing beautiful unwinds; the tempting Sirens (Rochelle Mangan, Mary Piggin, Jane Mieka) in their suspended coil frames; Penelope in Danger (Eve Gordon, Geoff Gilson, Andre de Jong) when the performers balanced, fell and caught on a suspended angled beam and the fascinating contortions in a cage by the prophet Tiresias (Edward Clendon). Some scenes which are more slow paced could perhaps be edited, such as the Deadlands Bar section.

The show also features the dynamic singer/performer Jackie Clarke, who delivers a belting rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero, while Penelope (Eve Gordon) waits for her hero to return. There is  also light comedic relief with some rabbity/goat-like creatures in the Xerse’s Galacalos scene and quirkiness in the Deadlands Bar scene. Thus the show has light and shade, quiet and powerful moments.

The real jaw dropping intensity of the work is seen at a close distance – so the corporate tables who are close to the stage are in the best position. Unfortunately the Arena is not a big top with circular seating, so much of the block seating is far away from the action. Consequently at a distance some of the beautiful work loses its power, clarity and visceral intimacy. However in general the show works hard to bring the tension and power to all present through the music, laser lighting and at times some excellent mounting tension such as in the towering chair routine and the finale. But I would suggest that if you do see this show in a large arena that you take binoculars so you don’t miss out on detail.

The finale truly is a climax. In the story Penelope’s suitors try to fulfil her challenge, with none of them knowing that Odysseus (Nick Taz Davies) is there in disguise. The final scene has some amazing non-stop acrobatic tumbling, swinging and throwing of bodies, interspersed with a funky dance routine. We are left wondering if the performers still have their arm or hip joints intact! The finale culminates in a beautiful suspended love duet by Penelope and Odysseus. Love prevails, we have all come out of the darkness. The audience goes wild. We all tumble home the better for a night of fantasy and escapism.

Once again our New Zealand performers need to be congratulated for their grit and determination to create unique shows in the current difficult environment. In the “Director Notes” of the programme, it says, like Odysseus  “we have all encountered a kind of darkness this year. For those of us in the arts, there have been times it felt impossible to find a way through…finally, we have arrived back to the place we know best – the stage…You left the light on for us Palmy – and we made our way home”


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Circus spin on classic tale

Review by Janet McAllister 30th Nov 2015

This spectacular cirque cabaret, starring the stylish acrobats of The Dust Palace, imagines The Odyssey as Star Trek. Selected island episodes are scrambled into visits to planets, each with its own favourite circus apparatus and sexual energy, and the journey device gracefully stitches the impressive and pretty physical tricks into one story.

Performing in at least six items, Eve Gordon gives a masterclass in incredible stamina, effortless strength, balance, beauty – and comedy. Instead of climbing the walls trying to get away from her suitors, her Penelope climbs ropes in sensuous orgies, to the sound of a torchlight cover of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. With one particular suitor (Commonwealth Games gymnast Carlin Brown), she later performs a superb adagio – full of creative lifts and interesting tableaux. [More


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Gloriously fun

Review by Dione Joseph 28th Nov 2015

Homer never got to see Star Trek.

In fact, there’s an awful lot that the epic poet didn’t get to witness as the centuries rolled by, but I wonder what he would have thought of the futuristic-cirque-cabaret-Johnny Cash mash-up that opened last night at Q’s loft.

The Dust Palace’s Ithaca is a visual aesthetic feast and if for nothing else but your viewing pleasure of the human body and all its potential – go see this show.

The 80 minute production (plus interval) stays remarkably true to the key events in Homer’s epic with one obvious exception at the end. The work traces the long voyage of the Argo back home across time and space (and literally through space) back to Ithaca. Over the course of this decade long journey the crew faces various encounters with sirens, sorceresses, ocean monsters and of course Cyclops, each adventure exquisitely choreographed. With a fabulous space vessel (the interior design of the ship is definitely a highlight) Odysseus and his weary crew prepare to return home to friend and families and their beloved. In particular Odysseus’ queen Penelope has already been waiting for her husband to return from fighting in the war and not having heard even received a static transmission, her patience seems to be nearing the end.

The cast and crew share a number of roles as Mike Edward takes the lead as Odysseus, but with Carlene Newall, also provides direction for the work. In addition, he is also a key influence in other areas of creative design as well as the music. Each choreographed element is exquisitely sculpted and Michael Craven’s lighting design is perfectly suited for the traverse set design. The latter is credited also to Craven but also actor/director Edward and performer Eve Gordon. Rochelle Mangan and Edward Clendon also join Gordon as leading aerial acrobats (and choreographers) and collectively they and the other performers create sequences that add genuine moments of visual and embodied narrative to the story. Hadley Taylor as Antero and Geoff Gilson as 1900 are excellent in their respective roles, adding both humour and feeling to the largely Odysseus –centric narrative.

Not unlike Captain Kirk, Odysseus does his best to keep his team headed for home but along the way it seems that not just the story but the production itself begins to waver. The script, collectively written by Tom Sainsbury, Mike Edward, Eve Gordon and Hadley Taylor, has its moments when all its diverse elements do come together, but in general it is far from being a cohesive piece. It’s a gloriously fun work with music ably provided by Matthias Jordan and Jol Mulholland and the elements of circus are almost flawless; yet despite its very appealing visual aesthetic the production seems to be focused on successfully delivering key moments rather than ensuring the story carries dramatic weight. The main issues are that the narrative skims the surface. The stakes are never raised quite high enough and while some interesting commentaries are made it’s just not pulling the punches where it could.

Ithaca brims with so much potential but there are just far too many disparate elements that have not been worked through, and the ending in particular strays drastically from the original resulting in a rather contrived finale. On a practical note the sightlines need to be vastly improved for those not sitting in the front row and the timing of the dinner service is distracting. But the biggest concern is the obvious exhaustion that radiates from the cast and the issues of safety during opening night. In its current iteration it is unfortunately a production that is under rehearsed and favours aesthetics rather than story. 


Dione Joseph December 4th, 2015

Thanks to the generosity of the Dust Palace, I was given a ticket to last night's performance of Ithaca. It's rare that a reviewer is fortunate enough to see a show a second time. Almost a week later let me say that I was delighted to see how much the show had grown and developed. Several edits had been made to the betterment of the overall production and a second viewing certainly allowed me a greater appreciation of both the opening scene with its exquisite movement narrative, as well as the opportunity to note how the various segues between episodes had been strengthed. Carlin Brown's superb solo is also worth noting and overall Heath Jones' Cyclops scene is much improved from it's earlier rendition. The finale, the ultimate reunion between Odysseus and Penelope, is both touching and powerful in its restraint. For those who know the story of the orginal epic it will be a tad disappointing if you are expecting to see a massacre of lecherous suitors and some brilliant archery with Odysseus' infamous bow. But set those expectations aside and the show certainly does come to an appropriate final huzzah. The various textured layers of the music were clearly audible last night as well (helped of course that this was my second time) and as mentioned before Matthias Jordan and Jol Mullholand have really done an excellent job. The script still needs work and is clunky in a few areas but as a whole it is on solid groud. Once again, I'm very fortunate to have been able to see it a second time.

Btw totally don't need the dinner service  as my theatre going experience was enhanced by the fact my full attention could be held by the story and its custodians.

Thank you Mike and team for having me - again.

Dione Joseph November 29th, 2015

Hi Mike

This is just to acknowledge and thank you for your message. We'll continue the convo via email but it's very generous of you and your team to offer me an opportunity to see the show again. Let's keep in touch and see if we can make it happen.

And really hope Eve is well on her way to recovery.



Mike Edward November 29th, 2015

Thanks for coming!

I just wanted to clarify that the ending was indeed different on Opening night as one of our performers went down during the show: The final act didn't occur which obviously lead to a very unfinished, non resolved ending.

Circus by its nature is dangerous and thats what makes it fun and exciting to watch... But accidents can happen and unfortunately one occurred on Opening night :( (Eve is ok... she just looks a bit like Rocky Balboa atm!)

Dione - I'd love to offer you another seat if you'd care to see the finish in its intended capacity. :)


Mike - The Dust Palace

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