HANNAH MIRSKY is left breathless by a show that has fun in (almost) the filthiest way possible.
9.30pm, Tue 19th – Sat 23rd Nov (except 22nd), Clare Cellars, £8 (students only)
Imagine being naked in public in front of a laughing audience. Or rather, wearing nothing but a thong, nipple tassels and suspenders in front of a laughing audience. It’s the stuff of nightmares (perhaps slightly titillating ones…) but many of the performers in Burlesque! pull it off admirably. This is not a show for the faint-hearted. If you’re not comfortable being startlingly close to near-nude bums and simulated orgasms, this probably isn’t your kind of night out. If you’re anyone else, you’ll have a great time.
Burlesque! is not perfect: like any variety show, some of its acts are less compelling than others. The one that baffled me involved an old lady with two sticks of wood, a man with a flat cap and an easel, and someone dabbing paint onto some else’s boobs. But even that wasn’t bad – I bet the description has you quite intrigued. The show also suffers from problems with the performance space. While putting on a show in Clare Cellars seems like an exciting idea, it’s set up like a bar, with people facing towards each other, not towards the central aisle where the performance takes place. This means that during certain acts, you really have to crane to see what’s going on. Even the performers seem to struggle with the smallness of the stage: not only are they sometimes in danger of crashing into audience members, but a mesmerising spinning hula hoop got stopped in its tracks last night by the unexpectedly low ceiling.
Yet even when things seem to go wrong, however, this is usually a chance for the performers to demonstrate their professionalism, and to remind how alive this show is, full of jokes directed at the audience, and filthy interactions between performers. The acts are often extraordinary. Lauren Hutchinson, who begins the show with a song (while she’s dancing with two half-naked men) fills up the space with her huge voice and even huger charisma. A ‘Freudian strip’ towards the end is both clever and beautiful to watch. Some acts are silly, some are saucy, some are just bizarre, but all the performers seem totally committed to the show’s filth and excitement and revelry.
The thing that makes Burlesque! worth seeing is simply that it’s fun. It really is entertainment: it wants to make you laugh and make you dance and to have an outrageous time with you. And that’s exactly what it does.