With the summer drawing to a close I went to the Underbelly’s Speigeltent on the Southbank for an evening of cabaret entertainment. This time in the form of Rouge, an adult circus show from Australia, fresh off the back of winning Best Circus at the 2019 FringeWorld Weeklies, writes Christopher Peacock. 

Rouge, Underbelly, Circus for grown ups: a decadent blend of sensational acrobatics, operatic cabaret and twisted burlesque

Advertised as ‘subversive and supremely sexy circus’ I was certainly intrigued as to what the show might bring. Unfortunately, upon arrival I was informed that the opera singer among the cast had come down with laryngitis and was unable to perform. However, she would still take part in the show and soldier on. So cliché became reality for the guys in the troupe because ‘the show must go on’.

This medical upset inevitably meant that the running time was reduced to around 55 minutes, which certainly didn’t reduce the enjoyment of the show. From the start there were displays of excellent strength work on the floor and on the silks and rings. Even with a couple of hula-hoops mishaps you were still in awe of the incredible high level of high-energy skill. The only area where the show slowed down a touch was the transitions between acts, the necessary stage handling to set up each act was, at times, a bit clunky. I can only assume that with the absence of one of the main acts of the show, what we were watching was not originally how it was meant to be.

Certainly not afraid to titillate and create a raucous atmosphere, Rouge certainly entertains. There is some nudity and strobe lighting, which makes it not suitable for everyone. Nevertheless, it is all done with joviality and a carefree attitude, which, with humour at its heart, broadens the appeal of the show. 

Underbelly Festival Southbank, SE1 until Sunday 15 September 2019. Times: Tuesday – Friday: 7.15pm; Weekends: 4.30pm and 7.15pm. Admission: £21.50 – £31.50. Phone: 03333 444 167.