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.

Jonathan Mar 12th 2011 05:20 pm Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,News,People,Reviews,Style No Comments yet Trackback URI

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