FRINGE CIRCUS AND PHYSICAL THEATRE, CABARET – Rouge – The Octagon at Gluttony – 4.5K

scaled_rogueAlexander Ewers

“Decadent”. “Astonishing”. “Sensational”. Scion of the much acclaimed Papillon of seasons past and launching into the lofty footsteps of its predecessor, Rouge promises the prodigious – a spectacle of and for the senses. And largely, Rouge delivers just that! Surging with a primal vitality and sophisticated sensuality, this sensory buffet at once seduces, scintillates and stuns.

Set against the evocative rouge-tinged glow of the Octagon, the eponymous show opens to mesmeric live vocals from the undeniably talented and versatile lead chanteuse-cum-diva. The following hour unfolds as a fusion of circus acts both traditional and reworked, playful burlesque, and sultry cabaret. Diversity is the name of the game. Rouge is an energetic, acrobatic and smoothly choreographed routine incorporating everything from the pyrotechnic (fire breathing), to the hypnotic (Risley act), to a composition that somehow assimilates ballet, breakdancing and Beyonce.

The performance draws from a vein of the sybaritic, the sensual, and yes at times, the overtly sexual. And for the most part, Rouge adroitly navigates the line between the tantalising and the tawdry, delighting and teasing alike with wanton exuberance. A couple scenes do strike a discordant tone however. The “Turn me on” sequence in particular seems unnecessary and out of place in the context of the hypnotism woven throughout the show.

Rouge’s strength and hidden surprise is its vocalist, who proves a statement in both her own right, and as a supporting act for the other performances. Sultry, powerful, and versatile, her talent, operatic as much as cabaret, constitutes the most unparalleled impression of the night. In a genre where a certain degree of physical and performance excellence is simply expected, the singer is Rouge’s point of difference from the rest. “Rouge – the circus with the opera singer”.

Not at all shy, and not for the shy, Rouge is a feast for the senses, a self-proclaimed circus for grown-ups. Behind the glitter and allure, one struggles to find a deeper meaning – a story – to the performances. But perhaps there is not one, and perhaps that is the point. Rouge is the triumph of show over substance, the carnal over the cerebral. Be prepared to be dazzled, titillated and captivated. This unashamed exultation of sexuality and physicality has something to please every “lady, gentleman and friend beyond the binary”.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

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