Contemporary circus practitioners The Dust Palace have built their new production The Goblin Market around fragments from an 1862 narrative poem by Christina Rossetti.

Through spectacular aerial performance they've deftly crafted a story with contemporary relevance which explores temptation and desire, self-protection, abuse and the redeeming power of sisterhood.

Three characters feature in the story: sisters Laura (Rochelle Mangan) and Lizzie (Eve Gordon), and a goblin market man (Jay Clement), each with specialist aerial skills central to their roles. The goblin man makes efforts to engage with the sisters, by turns seductive and enticing, proffering his wares and spectacular skills.

Laura is tempted by the goblin man, and gives in to her desires with devastating consequences, while Lizzie takes the moral high ground but is also driven to defend her sister and grapples with the goblin.


Viewpoints switch to and fro between human and goblin worlds via grungy black and white film sequence backdrops. City streets and waterways are brought to life with slashes, scratches and various surface effects while watching faces are seen in the shadows.

Each segment has its own music and the mood changes quickly thanks to an eclectic array of musical tracks ranging from trip hop and grunge to minimalist piano. A stellar version of You Don't Own Me by Johnny Madara animated the standout climactic scene featuring chair balancing bravado.

Astonishing feats of daring are delivered on aerial rope, hoop, double trapeze, walkway and straps with ease and speed despite the complexity and intricacy of sequences and the strength, agility and impeccable timing required. There are times when you doubt you saw them do what ought to be impossible.

Now in their 10th year as a company, The Dust Palace has started developing an international profile with The Goblin Market having already toured across Canada before touring in New Zealand. It's one of their best productions to date.

What: The Dust Palace – The Goblin Market
Where & when: Herald Theatre, until Sunday April 14