Two years ago, Underbelly united with Southbank Centre to create E4’s Udderbelly, a mixed and eclectic eight week summer programme. Udderbelly’s undeniable success has seen this year’s run extended to 12 weeks, ending on 17 July. Returning for its third consecutive year, the festival offers its attenders the opportunity to savour some of the country’s best entertainment at affordable prices. The shows cater for a variety of tastes and include both home-grown and international talent.
An adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful has weaved itself into this year’s line-up, relaying the story of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young First World War soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. The show subjects the audience to a retrospective analysis of his short, albeit happy, past. Dubbed “charming, witty, emotional and heart-rending” by the British Theatre Guide, this piece is set to cultivate Morpurgo’s reputation.
The award-winning The Boy with Tape on his Mouth has received praise from some of the capital’s most respected reviewers, subsequently generating a vast amount of expectation. This ground-breaking piece showcases a variety of genres with an unexpected twist: mime with noise, stand-up with no talking, and drama with no acting.
Canadian born Jeff Achtem has been crafting shards of junk into beautiful shadow puppets since the late 1990s. His show, Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones, is an invitation to watch the transformation process from beginning to end and constitutes a different, albeit wonderful, take on the art of puppetry.
Sceptics might think that a massive, upside-down purple cow might not be the most appropriate place to house these shows, but previous runs suggest that this year’s festival will continue to be one of the best – and most original – places to see live performances in the capital throughout the summer.
E4’s Udderbelly runs on London’s Southbank until 17th July.