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Review of The Burlesque Show 2016 at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

It was all about deja vu at The Burlesque Show at Royal & Derngate this year, and that wasn't the name of one of the exotic burlesque dancers. The feeling set in very early as Miss Peggy Sued our host once again, launched into Copacabana in her own inimitable style. It set the scene for perhaps a good sixty per cent of the evening having uncanny similarities to the 2015 show.

To be fair it was great to see much of it again, Miss Peggy Sued (aka Abi Collins) is a wonderfully enthusiastic and very funny host and looking beyond the fact that many of the jokes had been heard before, she constantly entertained. There were some lovely little extras, I am sure indeed that the "giveashitometer" has indeed been used since people heard it on the show, and I loved the local touches, including the departure of our Greyfriars bus station since her last visit. However I would have liked to have seen the "other host" this year as I thought on the night I was going to get to see.

There was a hint of familiarity also with three of the acts, with the returning Immodesty Blaize performing two routines (including the closing act). They were different from last year, but I still tended to think I had seen it all before, so to speak. She was though as before perfectly precise and stylish, even dealing with a dramatic wardrobe malfunction professionally.

Also returning, at first once again separated were Rod Laver and Alexandra Hofgartner, who performed their own identical routines from 2015 and then in the second half combined to do their identical combined routine again. It is all highly entertaining and I was able to listen to the gasps around me to re experience the shear thrill of seeing Mr Laver's slightly grotesque routine for the first time. Also although her routines were the same, I have to say I could probably happily watch the wonderful Alexandra many times for many reasons.

However for all the repetition we did have some wonderful new acts, the best of which was the magnificently inventive Kiki Lovechild and his mime routines. The first act showed clever use of a floppy folding hat as he effortlessly eased it into shapes along to a sound track. It was always entertaining and often quite hilarious. His second act performance had a more delicate and joyful touch as he went butterfly catching, including a brief excursion into the audience. For all its comic ideals, it also had a quite poetic and moralistic story to tell and really was quite wonderful.

There were two new burlesque acts in the form of Oriana and Sophie Cain. The former is actually described as a "plus size" artist and she is. However I wonder why that should matter as burlesque is all about pride in the body, so why highlight this. It was a lovely routine and she was very much able to get the tassels a twirling.

Sophie Cain took the alternative route of burlesque and took it straight down the comedy route including outrageously exaggerated butt and some major droopy action on the top half. It was a fresh and busy performance that was greatly enjoyable. I understand from online research (these things must be done) that she is also a circus act performer, so it is quite a shame that we didn't get to see some this in the second half (and less of the repetition).

The final new act came as quite a surprise as we were treated to a male pole dancer including excessive bum cleavage. It was quite clever to have a gentleman dancer for the night and made a genuine bit of variety, and my god was it impressive in skill. There was some staggering strength on show.

A final mention goes back to host Peggy Sued and the quite tremendous audience participant Stephen, who was genuinely an impressive addition. That moment of someone on stage can go very wrong, on that night Miss Sued picked a good one and it genuinely made up for a lot of the repeated material on show.

So, yes a wonderful variety night again and for newcomers, I am absolutely sure they would have left delighted. However for 2017, the pot really does need stirring on the material front to keep this fresh and entertaining.
«««« (If you haven't attended the show before)««« (If you have seen the show previous years)

Performance reviewed: Friday 22nd January, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

The Burlesque Show was at the Royal & Derngate (Royal) Friday 22nd - Saturday 23rd January, 2016.

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/



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