Observations: Udderbelly is all lit up by the colour purple

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The Independent Culture

If there was an award for the most distinctive, outlandish venue, it would surely go to Udderbelly, a giant, purple upside-down cow that lands next Wednesday for a new eight-week season on London's Southbank. With hooves and udders pointing upwards and its very own pasture between the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye, it will be virtually impossible to miss the extraordinary, 400-seater space.

A joint venture between Underbelly, an entertainment company who run venues at live events, and the Southbank Centre, the festival offers a mixed bag of over 40 comedy, music, cabaret and theatre events. Joan Rivers kicks it off, followed by acts such as variety performer Miss Behave in The Crack, bingo with OAP rapper Ida Barr and beatboxer Beardyman. Comedy comes from the Comedy Store Players, such as Jason Byrne and Katy Brand, while the festival finale is the Tom Tom Crew performing a circus, drumming, beatboxing, acrobatic spectacular.

While this is the cow's first appearance in London, Udderbelly began as a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival three years ago. "The cow has been our company logo for several years and when we wanted to build a moveable theatre, we suddenly thought of an upside-down purple cow," explains Underbelly co-director Ed Bartlam who hopes to make the festival a yearly event.

www.underbelly.co.uk

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