Rouge at Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh – ‘Serious skill but a little too clean’
Like all the best things in life, Rouge is at its best when the clothes come off. There are instances of total hotness in this sexy circus, and serious skill ranging from opera singing to cyr wheel. But for something billed as a decadent romp, overall this show is a little too clean.
Things spice up when the talented cast take it to the surreal. Like the best sex, the outstanding acts are messy and really quite bizarre. A glorious bit of hula-hooping by a performer wearing nothing but a lampshade on their head eclipses the lip-licking, floor humping dance routines.
Jessie Mckibbin’s BDSM whip-cracking set accompanied by pony-slaves in latex is everything Rouge bills itself as. It is downright filthy and an extraordinary display of ability. Elsewhere the circus arts on display are undeniably impressive but there is little to separate them from circus with a PG rating. MadisonBurleigh and Liam deJong deliver one of the most precise and complex partner acrobatic routines I’ve ever seen. While the performance is beautiful, it’s not erotic.
Rouge bills itself as an inclusive celebration of sexuality in all its forms. Queer, non-monogamous and multi-partner relationships are represented in the on-stage couplings. Yet, the overall effect as they paw and nuzzle each other is of very beautiful people who (quite reasonably) want to have sex with the rest of their gang of fellow beautiful people. Its fun being invited to watch but there is little here that destabilises normative ideas of sensuality.
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