I’ve been wanting to go down to Underbelly for so long. Years in fact. Each summer it announces it’s back, I’m dying to buy tickets. Something has always got in the way. Not this year. This weekend, with a free Saturday in London, I took Chris to see Rouge at Underbelly Festival and it was one fantastic afternoon.
Underbelly festival is just off the main walk along Southbank. It almost feels a little mysterious and exclusive as you walk along the wooden walkways, through the trees and the few stalls towards the main opening. It’s a super cute hidden garden, with fake grass, and plant filled verandas. There’s plenty of seating, from picnic benches to grass covered ledges, although we did think it’d be rather busy during the evenings.
There are a few bars including the main Rekordelig one, a Pimms bar and a couple more. There are also a handful of food stalls including halloumi fries, ice cream and Nanny Bill’s burgers, if you’re peckish too.
Having been out for a boozy brunch, we decided to top up the alcohol ahead of the show and grab a drink to enjoy in the afternoon sun. Service was pretty quick and relatively friendly from the Rekordelig bar, and prices were as you expect at a festival in London – £6 a pint. With two ciders in hand, we sat on the grass covered ledge, dog watching, laughing and chatting. We were still unsure what to expect from the show, but excited to try something different.
Rouge at Underbelly Festival is heading up the line-up of shows which have made their way down to London from Edinburgh Fringe.
It classes itself as a decadent blend of sensational acrobatics, operatic cabaret and tongue-in-cheek burlesque; a non-stop celebration of the astonishing, the surprising and the downright sexy. The poster in Underbelly Festival yesterday said ‘Circus for Adults’, and so we were still uncertain on what it would be like.
Five minutes before the show, the audience started queuing and luckily we’d headed over a little early. One thing we’d definitely recommend so you can get your pick of the seats as it’s standard seating. We sat in the middle section towards the back, avoiding front row as we were still unsure what to expect and wanted to avoid being pulled up.
The show started with one of the males at the back announcing the show, and stating ground rules – basically cheer, whoop and don’t post pictures of any of the performers naked. With everyone around us laughing and giggling, we thought not much of it and waited for the performance to start.
Rouge started with dance and floor acrobatics, and set the bar high.
The holds, balances and strength of the performers was extraordinary. There was lots of acrobatics and circus acts throughout from the 6 performers. This included aerial hoop, more aerial arts, floor based and throws/jumps. Alongside this there was plenty of adult comedy, with a couple of the performers stripping down a little more during the sketches – what the guy intro’ing the performance hinted to.
To give you an example of the kind of humour and adult nature, one sketch involved someone having their boxers pulled down. At which point he quickly covered himself up with his hands, and tried to move his boxers up slowly, with just moving his body and legs. Pretty impressive. And having his boxers pulled down a second time, he tucked himself between his legs to sort himself up. It got the crowd roaring with laughter.
Alongside this one of the female performers did a performance with fire – a little scary, but it looked so cool. There were so many amazing sets within the hour show, I don’t want to spoil it all. We literally clapped, laughed and exclaimed ‘wow’ the whole way through. The talent was seriously impressive, and it was such a fun show to watch.
They did get a couple of people up from the crowd too, so I’m glad we were a little further back. But the view was great – there weren’t too many rows, so you could still get a clear sight of the stage.
Yes, it was a little different to what we’d usually book/watch but we really enjoyed it. I’m definitely going to look into more things like this – it’s such an experience and I really do recommend trying to pop along whilst it’s on (until 15th September!).
We had a quick pic with four of the performers before dashing off. They were SO good!
Summary – Rouge at Underbelly Festival:
- Price: Tickets are from £21.50 (including the fees), and it’s well worth it.
- Experience: Different but so fun! It really is circus for adults. Get ready to be amazed, laugh and clap the whole time.
- Drinks: There is plenty of space and bars to have a cheeky tipple before/after too at Underbelly Festival. Drinks are standard festival kind-of prices, with pints at £6. Flavoured cider is the one in summer though so it was very much enjoyed.
- Atmosphere: Underbelly Festival feels like a secret garden party. There’s a huge space just off Southbank filed with fake grass, green and flowered covered verandas, and picnic style seating. It’s relaxed, chilled and pretty cool, even for a drink.
- Book?: Do book ahead as shows can book up. You can book online here and collect tickets via the box office.
Have you been to Underbelly Festival? What else should I book to see?
*I received two complimentary tickets to see Rouge. All views my own.