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Adelaide Fringe Review – Burlesque Assassin


After much of the Classical style Burlesque I have seen over the Fringe it is good to counterbalance things with some modern form neo-Burlesque – and yea verily, it is even better when it works. There have been some real hits and misses in years past. Tonight was the former, not the latter, I am happy to say.

Consider if you will the tradition of Chamber Opera, small ensembles of performers and musicians performing stories designed for a small venue.  The concept of Chamber Opera actually fits very well with neo-Burlesque, and particularly tonights performance, Burlesque Assassin.  We have a house band consisting of stripped back drums, indie-jazz double bass and jangling shoe-gazing guitar – this being Sydney band The Knife Waltz, the lead singer for which, Nikki Nouveau prowls onto stage like a diamonte spotted Snow Leopard, bullwhip in hand.  The reverb laden sounds layered with Nikki’s voice touches on sentiments of PJ Harvey and Blonde Redhead, with certain noir Lynchian qualities.

Simone Smiles enters the scene, doing the first instance I can recall seeing of Burlesque Ballet, initially toying with Nikki with pseudo-sapphic allusions.  The story starts taking shape through the songs performed and kinetic physicality, Nikki being bound in symbolic shibari restraint into domesticity by her (very tall!) male paramour – is this a willing submission or forced? We are never sure, the line being fine where love is involved.  But temptation from Ms Smiles and her pirourettes undermines this bond, the paramours eyes, mind and then body wander with a detached coldness.  A deadly mistake that culminates in the revenge of a lover spurned, a Dominatrician transformation overcomes Nikki, wielding nunchucks and crowbar for good measure.

The combination of live band, singing, storyline and dance that deliberately intertwines is something I could really enjoy seeing more of in neo-Burlesque performances.  If I were to critique anything, there were times I thought the high momentum in Burlesque Assassin risked a stumble, but this is possibly just an issue of management of continuity from one scene to the next.  This is really quite a different kind of performance with no major breaks between scenes for performer or audience to catch their breath, so the stage management I can only imagine is no small matter.

I look forward to more from Nikki Nouveau in future, and most certainly The Knife Waltz.

The last performance is tonight, 12 March, at 9pm – and it is SOLD OUT.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 12th 2011 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,News,People,Reviews,Style | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review – A Dolls House

I’ve seen a few Burlesque shows this Fringe, and some I have openly pondered about how well the mood has been set by the Master of Ceremonies, what I believe to be a critical role. They are no less than a Ringmaster, an Orchestral Conductor even.  Look and learn would be MC’s.  The Dolls House Master of Ceremonies (or is that Master of Seduction?),  is the wonderfully androgynous Johnny Castrati, a dandy indeed and resplendent in a frock coat with dual peacock motifs (cocksure compensation perhaps?).

But he promises us much. “Less David Jones and more Carnivale!!” he proclaims to my welcome relief, my growing anticipation.

Thus the tone and tenure of the evening is set, and the foundations laid for the entrance of Flavella L’Amour, corseted in period garb and parasoled like Marie Antoinette, who teases wonderfully by appropriately pacing her routine, losing not an inch of kapow in the process, across a soundtrack of 1920’s jazz, modern rock and then swing.  She will push the ceiling higher later in the evening with a sassy cabaret jazz routine climaxing in her adornment in her trademark pet python, its random wandering across her curves producing a natural snakeskin garment that moved and reacted to her gyrations.

Karrey Dolly gave us an ‘Edwina Scissorhands routine that was cleverly constructed, although her movements in this routine and her follow up Middle Eastern Gogo Explosion occasionally had timing issues, which need to be forgiven as she was last minute a stand in, and she clearly was committed to delivering a solid performance.

Zoe L’Amour Princess of Pain & Daredevil Diva fulfilled provided a nice contrasting hard edge darkness to the otherwise bright display through acts of masochism, illusion and daring – mousetraps on the tongue, consuming razor blade laden apples, climbing a ladder of swords bear footed and tongue kissing an electric metal fan.  The girl is hard. Well hard.  If this wasn’t enough she proved that battery operated love toys are no match for a mains electricity powered angle grinder thrust into an armour clad groin.

Lastly, to the crooning tunes of Just A Gigolo, our psychopomp extraordinaire Johnny Castrati emerged from his chrysalis to reveal Australian Burlesque royalty, Rita Fontaine who gave us a full contact Gogo shimmy and shake that threatened to undermine the building foundations.

A Dolls House was Burlesque in a Mexican wrestling mask that slammed us into the canvas repeatedly, leaving us much too delirious and weak to tag out.

A Dolls House has their last performance on tonight, 12 March, at 11pm – SOLD OUT

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 12th 2011 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Events,News,People,Reviews,Style | Comments (0)

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