The Goblin Market: a stellar acrobatic performance

Performed by the Dust Palace, The Goblin Market was engaging from beginning to end

The performance was as gymnastic as it was suggestive. (Photo courtesy of Jen Raoult)

By Aaron Richardson

During the walk to your seat at the recent production of The Goblin Market you were accompanied by a half-naked man in a goblin mask fingering a cantaloupe. Far from the most sexual use of fruit in the performance, the pre-show to The Goblin Market set the stage for the entire event.

     The performance is an adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s narrative poem published in 1862. The poem follows the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who give in to the irresistible temptation of the fruit sold at the travelling goblin market. Filled with figurative language and complex metaphors, it wasn’t much of a leap to adapt the poem into an interpretive acrobatic performance.

“A story ripe with fruit-filled sexual tension, passion, and desire.”

     As a narrative circus show, The Goblin Market tells a story of “temptation, sacrifice and eventual salvation,” according to the Cultch’s website.  With acts of trapeze, silks, and even spoken word and music, it was an engaging performance from beginning to end. With only three performers — Rochelle Mangan, Eve Gordon, and Edward Clendon — The Goblin Market was an 85 minute show without an intermission. The sheer acrobatic talent required for such a performance is enough of a reason to see the show. But the performance goes beyond the usual repertoire of circus theatre, and tells a beautiful story in an entirely original way.

     The slogan of the performance, “Eat fruit. Love lust,” is a surprisingly accurate description of the event. A story ripe with fruit-filled sexual tension, passion, and desire, The Goblin Market was well worth the price of the ticket.

     Although there is a small element of spoken word, almost the entire story is told without dialogue of any kind. Instead, it is told through the use of music, visuals projected onto the back wall, and undeniably fantastic acrobatic performances. The Goblin Market is a striking example of how a compelling narrative can be told through movement, as opposed to words.

     As the first half of its Canadian tour, stopping next in Montreal, The Goblin Market was a New Zealand based circus theatre company. The Dust Palace was founded by Eve Gordon and Mike Edward in 2009. Since then The Dust Palace has become the preeminent circus theatre company in New Zealand, and has began performing shows across the world. With the performances She Loves Me and Midnight still in the works, The Dust Palace is sure to continue the success it had with The Goblin Market.