Out of all the shows I had lined up to watch in my diary, this was probably the one I was most excited about. I am a burlesque fan, and had very high expectations for this evenings event.
The description gave very little away..
“Burlesque all-stars from around the world come together on one stage as Britain’s No1 spectacular goes global.As seen from Milan to Minsk, Zurich to St Petersburg, Dresden to Helsinki. Enjoy couture costumes, a red-hot score and cutting-edge variety. Join a thrill-a-minute, fun-filled frolic into the bizarre world of burlesque. . . we dare you! Dress up and come to the cabaret. Over 18s.”
I was disappointed to see the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre so empty, given that the show was only a one nighter. I was expecting quite a young and vibrant audience, but to my surprise the majority were middle aged or older. I’m curious to know why so few tickets sold for what promised to be a fun, sexy night.
The opening act was “The Folly Mixtures”, whom I found pleasantly entertaining but they didn’t leave me gripping the edge of my seat with excitement. Nice looking ladies, nice dance routine, but lacking the wow factor in my humble opinion. They performed a couple of dances throughout the evening, which seemed to jump between a series of genres and themes. As individuals I found the girls fascinating but would have liked to see the choreography incorporate a more inclusive feel, as I didn’t feel the women genuinely connected with it and each other. Things started cookin’ on gas when the delectable Ivy Paige (compere) took centre stage – fantastic vocals and stage presence. I loved her dry tongue-in-cheek humour and audience interaction (surely Simon was a stooge??) which got the evening flowing a little better. I would have really liked it if she had more of an active performance role, (in terms of the striptease activities) as her husky, dishy presence deserved more acknowledgement! The lady who did the strip tease with the feather fans was far closer to what I expected, classy, cheeky and some brief, artful glimpses of bum and boob (in true form to the tease!). There was also a lady who did a masked dance, and judging by her releve, was classically trained. I enjoyed her performance, but felt it could have been improved with a few props or possibly a male counterpart? The magician had me belly laughing and cringing in equal measure – great to have more audience participation, and finally something more to look at than a single person on an empty stage. Before the break we were introduced to ‘Jessica Rabbit’…who had a toy bunny strapped to her vaginal region and appeared to be simulating what I can only imagine was the vibrations from a hidden Rampant Rabbit?? Needless to say it didn’t do it for me I’m afraid.
The second half was far better, thankfully, and I loved the hula hoop act (one of the Folly Mixture girls I believe?) much much much more in context with what I would expect from a burlesque evening. I loved the combination of props, music, gymnastics and pure talent during those couple of minutes..probably one of the best bits of the show. I was so pleased to see a Dita style martini glass, and the performer was a dead ringer for Marilyn Monroe! Her figure was spot on, and finally made me feel that I was watching something akin to the images I held in my mind prior to taking my seat this evening. It was what I would describe as a laid back performance (although her talent was undeniable)..I think I was hoping for a little more sass, energy and martini splashing! The pea-head guy was bizarre but also strangely spectacular, and helped to break up the evening with some humour and general weirdness!
I think my overall view of the evening is that it was good, but almost felt a little ‘on a budget’. There were some bits of the show I loved, a few that I struggled to see the point of and a couple sitting somewhere inbetween. A chair was used a couple of times during the evening and it was clear it was just a theatre chair grabbed at the last minute – it doesn’t cost much to pop a few fairly lights on it or drape some material over it. The show in places, as my companion for the evening stated, occasionally held similarities to an evening entertainment at a holiday camp. A few tweaks here and there could really take the show up a level. For example….more glitter (always more glitter surely??), a smoke machine, more props, whipped cream, balloons, more feather boas, and some additional dancers during a couple of the acts just to add a richer dimension.
I feel that I have probably have been a bit harsh in my comments at times, but I had such high expectations based on my previous experiences, that I found ‘an evening of burlesque’ a little slow and basic. One of my favourite performers is Kitty Bang Bang, and I will always expect a similar quality to her live performances. 6/10.