When the big purple cow comes to the South Bank, it can only mean one thing: that the Underbelly Festival is back with a programme of circus, cabaret and comedy acts (from 6th April). The festival, now in its 10th summer, is from the same organisers as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Pride in London and West End Live in Trafalgar Square.Marina Dixon, head of programming for the festival, says: ‘Underbelly’s 10th year on the South Bank will feature the return of our favourite acts, alongside new talent. When programming the festival, we scour the globe for the most exciting international acts.’
The Ethiopian Konjowoch troupe Circus Abyssinia kicks off the festival with the family friendly show Circus Abyssinia:Ethiopian Dreams (from 6th April), after making its name at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.Since the Edinburgh premiere, it has toured Singapore and Australia to much acclaim. Based on the true story of the company’s co-founder, brothers Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam, the one-hour show – a London premiere – follows two young Ethiopian brothers who dream of joining the circus. Meanwhile, you can expect a different flavour and a more mature tone from 30-year-old Australian circus troupe, Circa.
The group will also headline the festival with the premiere of Peepshow (from 27th June), a comically playful hour-long show. Expect teetering towers of balancing bodies; slow, controlled movements in mysterious shadows; aerial acts, extreme bending, cabaret, backflips and hula-hooping. All the shows take place in two venues, The Belly theatre, which has capacity for 410 people, and the Paradiso Spiegeltent, a Belgian-style circular tent that is lined inside with mirrors. Both theatres will be surrounded by street food vendors and six bars, including one with dodgem-style seating. These will make up one of London’s biggest outdoor drinking areas, so you can raise a glass to this fantastic festival.
- Lambeth North