Hamilton Gardens, Mansfield Garden, Hamilton

24/02/2024 - 25/02/2024

Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa 2024

Production Details

Eve Gordon Writer / Director
Geoff Gilson Writer


Children and families delight in this silly, fun and sweet story told through the wonders of circus.

Antarctic enthusiast Bonnie and younger sibling Nikau have been promised a special treat – everyone’s favourite – ice cream! But, it’s a hot day and on the way back from the shops, the unspeakable occurs: the ice cream begins to melt…

Their journey becomes an epic survival adventure where important issues around environmental change transform into a double scoop of delight. This loveable whānau-friendly show is sprinkled with aerial acrobatics, contortion and ice cream juggling.

Mansfield Garden, Hamilton Gardens
Sat 24 Feb 2024, 3:00pm–3:45pm
Sun 25 Feb 2024, 12:00pm–12:45pm

Tickets $20 Child, $25 Adult, Family of 4 $80

(Wet weather cover: Emporium of Scintillating Wonders, Hamilton Gardens)

Bookings and Trailer:

Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa 

Jaine Mieka Performer
Mary Piggin Performer
Beth St John Performer
Oliver Craddock Performer
Rachael Dubois Producer
Stephen Bain Dramaturgy / Props

Cirque-aerial-theatre , Theatre , Family , Comedy , Dance-theatre ,

45 mins

Shone as bright as the sun.

Review by Marisa Diamond 28th Feb 2024

Nestled deep inside the breathtaking Hamilton Gardens and part of the lively Hamilton Arts Festival, The Ice Cream Is Melting was a sweet treat! There’s nothing quite as stressful as trying to eat your ice cream before it melts…

The Dust Palace, based in Tāmaki Makaurau, never disappoints. A major depature from the show they performed at last year’s Hamilton Arts Festival (Haus of YOLO), The Ice Cream Is Melting, directed by Eve Gordon, is a family friendly delight that left both children and adults with smiles on their faces.

A small but mighty cast of four performed in the heat of the day, weather that would melt any ice cream, for a full audience in the charming and whimsical Mansfield Garden. The show shone as bright as the sun. The performers showcased their talents in a way that resonated with the young minds. Gravity-defying aerialists and strong, elegant acrobats filled the stage, all with amazing physical theatre prowess that captivated the audience. What set this circus apart was its commitment to incorporating Aotearoa’s natural beauty, which needs all of our help to thrive.

The simplicity of the show was its strength, captivating the young audience with ease. The outdoor garden backdrop for the show was a perfect fit for the prevalent environmental themes carried throughout the show. Costumes were colorful and crafty, and the set design was full of repurposed circus equipment (that would later be used in circus acts). The soundtrack was intentional and beautiful, with the music becoming another character in the show. The story of two young people trying to get their ice cream home before it melted was simple, yet relatable, and the children in the audience became immediately invested in the characters’ attempt to reach their goal. 

One standout performance was Bonnie’s (played by Jaine Mieka) hula hoop act, which was performed flawlessly and seemingly effortlessly, all while she balanced on a wooden plank. Bonnie’s counterpart, Nico (played by Mary Piggen), charmed the audience with over-the-top facial expressions throughout the show. Oliver Craddick performed a polished aerial silks act despite barely being able to see past his tuna costume headpiece. And Beth St. John showcased strength and grace in a quiet yet impressive chair balancing act.

Despite a few first show technical difficulties, The Ice Cream Is Melting managed to strike the perfect balance between entertainment and education. It left the young audience with a sense of wonder and an appreciation for our home of Aotearoa. A simple yet sweet show, this circus deserves applause for turning a traditional form of entertainment into a platform for promoting environmental stewardship among the future custodians of our Earth.


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Breathtaking, enchanting, greatly appreciated by families

Review by Gail Pittaway 25th Feb 2024

The Ice Cream is Melting is a perfectly pitched production for a summer afternoon, although the four lithe and polished performers would have needed water with their ice cream after the hour of acrobatics, juggling, aerialism and trapeze they romped through, to a delighted crowd.

Positioned on the usually out-of-bounds lawn tennis court of the Mansfield Garden, the set is simple, with wooden blocks and chairs manipulated to form pathways and two black screens for costume changes along the side. The stage area is dominated by a tall, strong looking maypole structure and it is on this that much of the activity is focused, for dangling trails of silks, ropes and canvas loops to hold the performers.

Bonny and Nikau have been sent to buy ice creams on a summer’s day and after an unexpected round of juggling with cones and scoops with the vendor, eventually set off home with their four enormous iced confections. But the concrete path is too hot for their bare feet, so they decide to take a path through the bush instead.

There they meet all manner of challenges: uneven ground; a puriri moth that rises into the air and diverts them; a tuna or eel which has been tangled up in plastic rubbish, so they must stop to help it out. There are threats too – angry birds, a storm, a tumbling mollusc – which try to steal their ice creams or distract them so they’d drop their bounty. There are even busy vehicles replicated on segue machines which create a noisy and comical interruption.

When they become separated, Bonny helps a builder work on a fence to protect native species in a reserve, and that requires manipulation of wooden chairs to create height and a climbing frame for impressively deft acrobatics. Meantime Nikau is helping a native bird to seek its chick, from the height of the trapeze which they both share in a breathtaking contorted dance in the air.

As very much a family show, greatly appreciated by the many families in the audience, it is a very simple story with little dialogue, leaving most of the work to the superbly fit and well-trained performers, using tight recorded musical cues to move through the sequences.

Perhaps because this kind of physical work is also closely connected with clowning, there isn’t much characterisation except through costume and implications that Bonny is younger and less responsible than Nikau, and tends to wander off. However, through these two and their encounters with the two other performers in their various character roles, strong ecological messages come through, about protecting the natural world and supporting regeneration. A subliminal message probably contributes to the queues at the ice cream kiosk directly after the performance. 

The Dust Palace Company is a circus and theatre school which has been established for around fifteen years and regularly contributes shows to mainstream and fringe festivals so it is a treat to have them at this festival. It is clear evidence of their hard work and training for those wonderfully fit young people, twisting and swinging, performing up-side-down splits and feats of balance, while we all sit, enchanted.   


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