In Midnight, the latest and perhaps greatest of their experimental hybrid performances, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra was joined by contemporary circus theatre artists from The Dust Palace, adding gee-whiz impact and a fairy-tale story to a concert of symphonic greatest hits.

With the ASB Theatre full to the very last row of the balcony, the excellence of the aerial feats, in particular, soon had cheers and whistles ringing from the rafters. Dust Place artistic director Eve Gordon provided an adventurous yet somewhat tenuous tale as the through line threading together 18 distinct episodes.

An ailing King (Geoff Gilson), his concerned Queen (Gordon), a wandering doctor who comes to their aid (Trygve Wakenshaw), a mesmerising wicked Lyra Fairy (Rochelle Mangan) and pixies and marauders kept the action rocking along.

A diversity of acrobatics - cyr wheel, hand to hand, chair balancing, hula hoops, cloudswing, stilt dancers, a mimed story and some clowning about - all featured along with spectacular aerial silks and trapeze work, both standard trapeze and unique Dust Palace devices.


The APO played with passion and precision under the baton of David Kay, with each short excerpt ringing true. Music included bursts of familiar ballet and dance music from Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and a smattering of Debussy, Ravel, Beethoven, Respighi, Chopin and Lyadova.

The undoubted highlights were beautiful duets between Gordon and Johan de Carvalho on cyr wheel, spinning and dipping to match the ebbs and flows of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances Op 72 No 2; Mangan and Edward Clendon's intricate double work on standard trapeze to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and the finale to music from Swan Lake featuring Gordon and Gilson, the reunited King and Queen on aerial strap, spinning and floating and flying above their comrades with the lambently lit musicians behind.

What: Midnight — Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and The Dust Palace
Where: ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte