Rouge ★★★★★

Rouge is a sexy circus cabaret performance that has been created to broaden your horizons.

Many of the Circus shows at the Fringe are aimed at family-friendly audiences. Rouge, the award-winning Australian company, has firmly set its sights on a strictly adult market with a sexy circus cabaret that is different from the (hetero)norm. Their welcome state aim is to explore their female performers’ strength and power, to allow their male cast to be vulnerable with each other and to ensure the sexuality displayed is directed beyond the traditional straight male gaze.

Photo by Brig Bee Photos

The show opens with a respectful and timely reminder that we are no longer at home on our sofas watching Netflix without the need to vocalise our awe and appreciation of what we see before us, and this crowd-revving intro is well delivered and builds the atmosphere in the Assembly Hall, Edinburgh for the spectacular show ahead of us. Ariana, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj’s hit Bang Bang (into the room) sets the tone brilliantly as we meet the eclectic and energetic cast. Everyone knows that Australians are typically very easy on the eye and it’s fair to say that this pack of performers is certainly no exception. Made up of dancers, trapeze artists, acrobats and a world-class vocalist to boot, there isn’t a moment within this myriad of acts where they let the energy in the room drop below 100.

Michaela Burger’s range and powerhouse vocals are truly spectacular. She switches between legit opera to commercial pop, onto sultry smooth jazz and back to opera effortlessly, all whilst mirroring the dancers and at one point being tied up and suspended over the stage in a bondage-style erotic number performed with Chris Carlos, which quite rightly received a rapturous and deserved reaction from the room. Paul Westbrook delivers light entertainment and humour to proceedings, all whilst strutting around in knee high platform boots, a body modelled on Michelangelo’s David and the sex appeal to match…and just when you think he’s given all he has to give, a pair of ribbons descend from the ceiling and he, along with Lyndon Johnson deliver a perfectly choregraphed display of strength (and abs) that wouldn’t be out of place in a Las Vegas show. Jessie McKibbin and Sophia Seccombe’s dexterity and female boss attitude is impossible not to admire. These two bring more to the stage than just their acrobatic and cirque skills – they are entertaining and empowering women who demanded our respect and we were like putty in their hands.

Rouge isn’t the only show of this type at the Fringe. It’s fair to say that cirque cabaret shows are verging on ten a penny these days, especially at summer arts festivals all over the country at this time of year, but this production is different… It doesn’t just invite you to watch and be entertained. It has been created to broaden your horizons and respect the blurring of lines between sexuality, dominance and gender. Be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love, quite simple really.  An irresistible and important show.

You’ll be so buzzed and turned on, you’ll identify as a switch – an electrifying ***** (5 stars) for Rouge from The Recs 

Rouge Tickets

Rouge plays at Assembly Hall until 21 August

Book Now, Hurry!