Blush - QPAC

‘Blush: Circus for Grown Ups’ // QPAC and Highwire Circus

‘Blush’ was raucous.

Presented by Highwire Circus at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre, ‘Blush’ was a raucous and sexy circus cabaret.

Combining operatic trills, aerial acts, acrobatic feats, fire twirling and more, ‘Blush’promised an evening of intrigue and circus with a twist, both sexual and otherwise. The focus intended to transform the way the audience thought about sex – playing with expectations of heteronormative and queer relationships, kink, silliness, complexity, intimate pairings between men, women and those beyond the binary, and celebrating a range of relationships and pleasure.

Running at a thirsty hour, ‘Blush’ was full of slick circus acts rolling almost seamlessly (with perhaps a few opening night wobbles) from act to act. The Cremorne Theatre metamorphosed between aerial acts that featured the Cirque Songstress, duo trapeze and Cyr wheel acts. This line-up was also interspersed with comedic musical and dance, and focussed performances. This allowed each member of the multi-talented ensemble, which included Paul Westbrook, Christine Ibrahim, Christopher Carlos, Lyndon Johnson, Jessica McKibbin and Sophie Seccombe, a moment to shine.

Coming off seasons at the Adelaide Fringe, where it won Best Circus and Physical Theatre in 2020, ‘Blush’ is clearly an appealing cabaret show, with a slick commercial feel and not, as the MC informs us ‘high art’.

Still, if the intent of the work is to highlight the importance and power of female sexuality and celebrate non-heteronormative relationships, ‘Blush’ fell short for this reviewer, as a number of the female-centric acts felt performative and forced, without necessarily empowering the works female artists. Maybe this is just down to the carefully timed and polished sense of the world that ‘Blush’ created that meant any sexual chemistry or organic relationships came across as forced and inflected.

Having said that there were a number of stand-out moments – specifically, the lampshade that is ‘turned on’ and the duo trapeze act. Costuming is effective, bringing to life the glittering cinematic shimmer expected of a circus performance along with elements of BDSM culture. The choice of music was joyful and far ranging – from Carmen to the iconic Scissor Sisters’ song ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’.

If you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, ‘Blush’ is a great choice that will be sure to excite you with some spectacular circus moments.

‘Blush’ plays at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, and must close on Sunday, 12 February 2023. For more information and to book tickets, visit QPAC’s website.  

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