Review: We Aim to Tease
TOBY JONES and EMMA GREENSMITH are unanimous that this burlesque just isn’t sexy.
A Burlesque Night. Friday 29th January, Henry's Bar and Cafe, £19 including a 2 course meal or £8 without.
TOBY JONES – A bloke's view.
(I would just like to point out that this reviewer takes no pleasure in making degrading comments about the physiques of the women involved in the Burlesque show. He is merely doing his job: reviewing them.)
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when someone say’s ‘Burlesque’ to me it conjures up some pretty erotic images. Sultry red lips, perfect breasts bulging from beautiful corsets, smooth buttocks protruding from silk knickers, running into beautiful long legs, garters, high heels. I think of the kind of girls that men want and women want to be, the kind that leave a guy glued to his seat for fear that any other position would leave him unable to hide a throbbing erection. Not being especially experienced in this form of entertainment, I expected Burlesque to be sexy, really, really sexy.
So imagine my disappointment when I arrived in Henry’s Bar having missed half the evening to find an overweight, middle aged redhead, the very definition of mutton dressed as lamb, screaming into a microphone far too close to her mouth, with her wrinkly double F sag bags bouncing around like a pair of babies on yo-yo strings. My testacles literally crawled back inside me out of fear as we took our seats amongst middle aged couples who had come dressed for the occasion with all the charm of the lady I have so gracefully described above and a great deal more female facial hair.
The audience was then treated to three short acts (mercifully). I had been too late for the rest. The first, a slightly past it lady painted in gold waving ostrich feathers about and the second a fairly chunky ‘treacle tart’ who called out for volunteers to be given a strip tease only to be met with a deathly silence as the frightened looking Natscis edged for the door (she eventually pulled up her husband). Only the third could be described as sexy, and sexy she was. I was fairly transfixed as she slowly shed her layers whilst knocking off a bit of Beethoven (or whatever it was) on the piano. When yo-yo baby boobs introduced her you could see her eyes turn to green pebbles, she clearly knew that the final act was the only reason the show was still alive.
The one thing I can say in the show’s defense is that despite its poor quality there were a lot of people who looked genuinely turned on by it. There were middle aged couples celebrating the first sustained boner the man has had in weeks and there were groups of Natscis and Mathmos using it as an excuse to make out with each other. I guess that’s a good thing, right? Maybe the show took a nose dive at the point when I arrived.
Overall, based on the three acts I caught, I can recommend seeing this show if you fancy a really good laugh (at the performers) or if you and your partner are really, really, really struggling in the bedroom department. Otherwise: don’t go.
EMMA GREENSMITH – a female perspective.
One may be forgiven for expecting a female’s automatic opinion of ‘amateur’ burlesque to be rather negative. After all, we have fought for our equal rights for decade upon decade, and indeed continue to fight as we enter into the ‘teenies’ (or whatever we finally decide to call this difficult decade)- so the idea of a select group of our fellow species prancing around in ill-fitting corsets, referring to themselves in such ‘seductive’ terms as “treacle tart” and urging an inebriated male audience to “punish” them because they have been “naughty” may indeed seem counterproductive to the efforts of our suffragettes, and, frankly, repulsive. But, being an open minded kind of girl, I believe that burlesque can be beautiful, sexy, seductive, when done properly. The acts I saw were not.
I was immediately struck by the chaotic construction of the show- the (surprisingly few) members of the group stumbled on and off the very make-shift stage in a totally shambolic nature, and, one by one, entirely failed to entertain the (surprisingly few) members of the audience. “Treacle Tart”, who courageously also took on the role of the ‘MC’ for the night, chose to adopt the ‘stand up comedienne’ approach, cracking joke after joke after joke to try to stir up an iota of enthusiasm in the apathetic audience; she failed. And the more acute her failure became, the more desperate the ‘jokes’ she resorted to- at one point hauling a poor, unsuspecting male on to the stage only to ask us to laugh at his ginger chest hair.
Fair enough, you may say, it is hardly a vital criterion for a burlesque dancer to be hilariously funny. They are, however, expected to be able to sing and dance. Another rather striking observation of mine was that these girls, for the most part, could do neither. One girl, painted entirely in gold, subjected us to her interpretation of a belly-dance. I have never seen anything quite like it. The poor quality of the sound equipment, combined with the cast’s relentless insistence to speak far too closely into their microphones, resulted in a rather unfortunate echo, and a resounding punch sound with every consonant, so much so that even the talking parts of the show made uncomfortable listening, let alone the out of tune singing.
The one redeeming feature of the night’s entertainment was the final act. A stunning, blonde (semi) professional model and concert pianist, was the show’s piece-de-resistance- and with good reason. As she glided onto stage and treated the audience to some well known classical pieces (relatively well played, if one was being cynical, it might be added not quite the standard one would expect from a ‘concert pianist’) whilst removing her clothing in a slow, systematic, simmering manner, I was finally reminded of my initial expectations. This was sexy. This was seductive. This could just about be called burlesque… but it only lasted 5 minutes.
The final act was one very notable exception amongst the three I saw- the show was an utter mess. This is not me speaking as a cynical, feminist, or even as a critical, bitchy female. This is me, as a member of the audience with eyes and ears and a ‘cringe threshold’ that was completely exceeded. I was amused and entertained, but for all the wrong reasons, and I defy anyone who was there for the same bit of the show as I was – male or female – to disagree.
The next burlesque night is Friday 26th February.