Rouge excels at cheeky circus cabaret. While it doesn't quite reach the gut-plunging, edge-of-your-seat spectacle of some of the biggest circus acts of Fringe's past, it certainly does entertain.
Tara Silcock's hilariously chaotic hula-hoop burlesque, dressed only in a lamp shade, nipple pasties and a light switch, was a highlight. So too did Paul Westbrook delight, swaggering about the stage in tight sparkly briefs and a wry grin. His dance routine oozed charisma, comedic physicality, and sensuality in one. With the odd splash of cabaret and opera - not something you see in your average circus show - by Isabel Hertaeg and the limber acrobatics of Annalise Moore, there are no shortage of surprises in Rouge. The spectacle is rounded off by the two strong men, Chris Carlos and Andre Augustus, whose feats of strength and balance are perhaps overshadowed by their muscly physiques and performances, along with Westbrook, as a trio of kinky horses to Silcock's cracking whip.
Rouge is impishly playful with sexuality and gender, with performers living up to and subverting our expectations at every turn. It is a sexy show, and this is where it excels. While tongue-in-cheek sexuality is relatively common adult circus fare, Rouge makes it its own. From Westbrook's feathery male burlesque, to Hertaeg's climactic operatic 'high notes', and a balance routine set to a remix of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should all be Feminists", Rouge is a woke sexy good time unafraid to push the boundaries.
There were a few minor errors, and things did take a little while to warm up, but once Rouge hits its stride - which it does - it is pretty spectacular. This is a show best enjoyed after a few cheeky bevs and before a night on the town. So bring your friends, and strap yourself in. Rouge is sure to delight.