Performance review: Interloper, Theatre Royal, Hobart

Tasmanian circus performers offer a gentle and generous piece of theatre.

Tony Rooke has a long legacy of work in circus and his name is synonymous with a relatively new company of highly skilled acrobats now based in lutrawita/Tasmania. Established in 2021, ROOKE was founded by five world-class circus artists drawn together by the co-direction of Conor and Freyja Wild. Their stated aim is to ‘engage, inspire, transport and uplift local audiences’ and they do that in truck loads. 

Interloper is a gift to audiences of all ages. Celebrating humanity at various stages of maturity, the work grows out of the simple pleasure of making a cup of tea. Accompanied by the single light source from a boiling kettle, Conor Wild’s opening solo rolls and twists in and out of the floor. He is joined by others, building the pace with gentle duets and casual encounters. The kettle boils and the table becomes the focus, introducing the more mature Tony Rooke. The tea making, and fun begins.

As he delights in the process and with gentleness and smiles, time slows and the audience is drawn into his beautifully understated world. Relationships are formed with the other members of the group as they playfully introduce the audience to their acrobatic skills. There is no rush to impress, but impress they do. 

This is a sweetly gentle work, which draws you into a journey of friendship and physicality. There is nothing dark here. The lovely open communication between the performers is delightful to share as they embrace the audience with their confidence and generosity. Their tricks are complex, their accuracy and synchronisation superb and all is approached with very human qualities, making everything look possible.

Drawing hoop work, acrobatics, balancing and tricks with simple props into its finely tuned narrative, Interloper is clearly well-crafted. Rousing applause equally acknowledges the mastery of both Freyja Wild’s and Mieke Lizotte’s stunning hoop and balance work, and Lewie West’s and Conor Wild’s liquid strength. Precision and care are at the forefront with little sense of showing off.

Rooke’s tricks endear him to the audience as a loveable character who is obviously extremely capable, but willing to play his part in providing seamless links between greater levels of physical activity.

Read: Performance review: Chopin’s Piano, QPAC Concert Hall

Interloper is a charming work. The performers are generous with each other and the audience. A truly delightful piece of theatre. 

Theatre Royal nipaluna/Hobart
Studio Theatre 

Lighting Design and Technical Direction: Ryan Mahony
Set Design: Isaac Williams and Connor Lizotte
Creatives: Jamie Bretman, Jake Silvestro
Cast: Tony Rooke, Mieke Lizotte, Lewie West, Conor Wild, Freyja Wild

Interloper was performed 13-14 July 2023.

Lesley Graham has been active in dance and dance education for over 30 years. She is a regular reviewer for ArtsHub and Dance Australia, a curriculum consultant, and represents Ausdance National on the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE).