Pin-up Felicia's stock rises

A Night of Burlesque

The Old joint Stock, Birmingham

*** 

I LOVE Burlesque, I should make that clear from the off.  Not for the reasons you may think.  For me it is more laughter over leering and smiles over smut.  I love it because at its best it is fun and cheeky yet skilled and graceful and really rather exquisite.  

So I was looking forward to a night of burlesque at the theatre at the Old Joint Stock.  The venue itself is very nice; the performance space is small and intimate, which is perfect for burlesque where, to be truly effective, there needs to be a fun interaction with the audience. 

The night consisted of three acts - Geeta Von Tease, Pixie Amore and Felicia Noir.  To give them their due the acts worked very hard, each performing three dances, with no intermission.  They were joined by a compère, Darren, and a “Maid” Sally Ann who collected the props and garments strewn across the stage after every dance with cheerful efficiency.   

Geeta kicked the show off with a dance dressed as a Lollipop lady- although her patter was based around traffic wardens which was a little confusing.  She asked audience members- including this reviewer where they had parked before dancing and removing her hi-vis coat to reveal many layers of safety gear and fluorescent underwear.  While I could see the humour that she was trying to inject, for me the costumes are as much part of the show as the performers, and this was more panto than burlesque. 

Though her attire improved throughout the show, I felt that the initial piece undermined what she and the show tried to do later.  As a performer she was enthusiastic and likeable and did try to please the audience.  If anything I felt she was trying too hard.  

CHEEKY REFERENCE

It all seemed a bit haphazard with some props on the stage but not really used and dance and musical timing slightly off.   This was the case even when props were used more effectively, such as feathers that were on stage but not really used and  with songs such as “Diamonds are Forever”.  Incidentally the song is perfect for burlesque as it is big and grand and showy, but it is also nothing to to do with diamonds, instead it is a cheeky reference to penises. 

Pixie Amore got better as the show went on, her first dance was graceful but lacked a connection with the audience.  Her second was a nod to the classic feathers dance- which while the timing was slightly off was well executed.  Her third dance was one of the best of the night.  It was humorous and graceful and had a good use of a beginners guide to burlesque sign prop.  

It used a clip away costume, which had been lacking in many of the dances.  It had and was a genuine Ta-Dah moment and really lifted the night.  I would be interested to see Pixie Amore again in a year to see if she had developed into the greater performer I believe she could and indeed should be.  

As the MC, Darren had a decent voice and decent patter to keep the show ticking over well, which after all is his job. The sound was a problem throughout, with issues with song cues failing and the mic cutting out- although in a strange way it helped the show.  It enlivened the crowd and provided the MC with his best material, it seemed his natural comedic instincts were better than his pre-written material; and the the sound man Pete did take a bit of a pasting.  

The technical shortcomings also showcased what a fantastic voice Felicia Noir had when she broke free from the failed mic to sing with great range and power which did not diminish her delicacy. 

Felicia was the most polished of all the performers and had a wartime pin-up thing going, which combined with her excellent timing and classic burlesque figure made her very watchable.  Her Oktoberfest finale was excellent, with an well judged alignment of props, costume and choreography and was a very good end to the show. 

While there were some highlights the show itself did not quite work as a collaborative piece, with the shifts in pace a little clunky.  It was a fun night and the crowd were in great form but I think that as a burlesque show there is still work to do to make the quality consistent and really project what the art form is all about.

Christian Clarke 

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