'An epic journey into the history of vaudeville burlesque' proclaims the publicity for the show, and boy, is this fun. Adorable girlies in frills kicking up their legs can still be entrancing, jaded as we all may be. The show opens with a stylish, masterful and impressive bout of magic with the all-traditional white rabbit and doves and some pretty nifty tricks. Making a dove appear out of a painting, 'losing' a pint of milk poured into a newspaper and making a cage of birds disappear - amazing stuff!
The broad appeal of this show is its fidelity to tradition, it obviously isn't doing anything new, rather, it is honouring the old. And it's so nice to experience show turns imbued with retro glamour, with all the colourful joyousness of the costuming and the dances and the sheer gorgeousness of the peformers, very accomplished on the whole (many of the routines are done in ballet pointes), and the spectacle, as much spectacle as you can get in a Fringe show in a town hall; all of which adds to the sense of authenticity. A highlight was the Cancan, believe it or not, going to show that some things just don't need improving upon. Sound was a problem; the music was fuzzy and it was difficult to hear the stories, in verse, about dancers from the past, such as Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. The second half brought some improvement in sound quality but it did detract, with luck it will be sorted for the remainder of the season.
The Mata Hari piece was an exuberant piece of choreography, the soldier girls not perfectly synchronised but their routine affecting, nonetheless. The research that has gone into this show gives it heft and allows the audience to imagine they're back in La Pigalle in the 1920s, in a West End music hall, or on Broadway in the forties... It's so easy for us to forget what groundbreakers these women were in their time, how much they risked in compromising their respectablility and, in the case of Mata Hari, certainly, how much it cost them.
Burlesque is a sweet and delightful show, guaranteed to bring about good, good vibes.
Burlesque through the eyes of Minsky Malone
Created and Performed by Charlie Robinson
Part of the 2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival
Venue: Northcote Town Hall - Main Hall | 189 High St, Northcote
Dates: Sept 29 – Oct 3, 2010
Time: 8.00pm (80min)
Tickets: Full Price $ 30.00, C oncession $ 25.00