Review: Rouge at The Underbelly
Raunchy, raucous, and a rollicking good time. Such a description begins to look like a total cliché once you have read a couple of reviews of Highwire Entertainment’s latest show, Rouge.
Hot off a hugely successful UK premiere in Edinburgh, the Australian company is presenting its “circus for grownups” at the Underbelly until September 15th and if you don’t go see it… frankly, you’re a muppet.
The award-winning show is a delicious blend of acrobatics, operatics, and all-out, gender-stereotype-squashing sexiness – and it is definitely not one to take your Nan to. Unless she’s a minx – honestly who knows these days?! I took my day-job work colleagues for our monthly team night out and even the strictest and straightest had a bloody good time.
My favourite element of the show was its binary breaking. Every cast member seemed to be turned on by every other cast member, every duo – male-female, male-male, male-female – was equally believable and equally joyous. One big inclusive filth party.
And it is a bit filthy. (Two words: carrot. Strap-on) But my goodness it’s fun. And part of the reason it is fun is that the audience need have very little fear of the sort of stomach-churning interactivity that sexy cabaret normally features. Aside from one poor woman who helped out with a chair-based balancing act, there was no audience participation. No awkward lap-dancing scenes, no nasty surprises. We were there to watch, whoop, and clap from the safety of our seats.
My favourite acts included the gorgeous male trapeze duo which was super-powerful and super-sexy in equal measure. I loved the Cyr wheel performance, as I always do – Cyr performers always manage to make it look like such effortless fun, though I’m sure it’s bloody hard work. Also, I now have a sizeable crush on fire-juggling, Cyr-wheeling, trapeze-dangling goddess, Jessie McKibbin. Not to spoil it but: omg, whips.
I would have liked there to have been more of a narrative thread to bring the show together a bit and make it feel more cohesive. The reappearance of our burlesque lampshade was definitely along the right lines, but I would have liked more. I also slightly missed a huge finale, though I did love how the opera singer was built in throughout the show, up to the eventual (LOL) climax.
It felt a little like an early Briefs show, without the stonking production values. But this did nothing to harm it – in fact, it felt like a very raw, very bold, very passionate show. And I found it truly marvellous – I’ll be keeping a watchful eye out for Highwire Entertainment.
In the meantime, get yourself to the Underbelly pronto and enjoy this sexy extravaganza (sextravaganza?) right away. Saucy Nans welcome.
Rouge will be on at the Underbelly until September 15th. Find out more here.