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Underbelly Festival at Southbank

Rouge
5.0Reviewer's Rating

It isn’t often that an essay by William Hazlitt springs to mind while watching a circus. But such was the physical prowess of the five young acrobats (plus an opera singer!) putting on this show that some lines from The Indian Jugglers seem particularly apt. “Is it then a trifling power we see at work, or is it not something next to miraculous? … A single error of a hair’s breadth, of the smallest conceivable portion of time, would be fatal: the precision of the movements must be like a mathematical truth, their rapidity is like lightning. … It is skill surmounting difficulty, and beauty triumphing over skill.”

Or as the blurb puts it, “ROUGE is a decadent and astonishing blend of sensational high energy acrobatics, soaring aerial trapeze, operatic cabaret and tongue in cheek burlesque.” In fact, the blurb goes one better. The show “is performed with wild abandon, as an aura of sexuality pervades the venue.” Well, that must be a crowd-puller, and indeed the venue was packed full last night. There was a rather pretentious announcement about celebrating sexuality in all its forms, but I’m afraid I just sat back and enjoyed the show. It was packed with constant surprises, carried off with panache and with a contagious sense of fun. If it said anything about the human condition, it was about the amazing things that the human body can be trained to do.

The show is powered along with a driving soundtrack, flashing lights, and a rapid succession of turns. There is a bit of nudity, but played for laughs. The audience was delighted with the whole thing, clapping and cheering at each astounding feat. Not a circus in the traditional sense, and not one for the children, but with enough thrills packed into one hour to make you need a mug of Horlicks at bedtime to calm down.

About The Author

Trustee & Reviewer (UK)

Richard McKee is a lawyer, and used to be a judge, but despite that (or because of that) he likes comedy, cabaret and pantomime.  These are the things that he reviews for Plays to See, for which – in view of his great age – he is also a trustee.  He leaves the serious stuff to the young!  But seriously, though, he thinks it is a great idea for young reviewers to hone their critical faculties and communication skills by writing for Plays to See, and feels privileged to be involved in its current expansion.

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