Director: William Baker
Reviewer: John Roberts
Burlesque has made a staggering comeback in recent years in the UK, with its tongue in cheek humour, its risqué tease and its celebration of the female form finding favour with almost everyone who comes into contact with it, so it is no surprise that The Hurly Burly show has once again found a home in the West End.
The Hurly Burly show was created as a revue at the infamous Raymond’s Revue Bar in the heart of Soho, the brainchild of Polly Rae; arguably the most prominent burlesque performer in the country. After a meeting in 2010 William Baker (Kylie’s Stylist and director of the critically slammed Rent:Remixed) came on board as the shows stylist and director and the rest they say is history.
There is plenty to enjoy in this latest production, a stunning set design by Alan MacDonald of a picture framed hall is a perfect backdrop for tantalising titbits that are presented, while Nick Whitehouse’s lavish lighting design creates a perfect atmosphere throughout. The girls on display (quite literally) are beautiful and for the most display an almost perfect balance of sensuality and cheekiness.
William Baker’s direction however is a little mixed, while trying to stay truthful to the original revue format of the show, the segmented elements just don’t seem to coherently work together, the whole never quite feels complete, a shame as the second act with its historical sketches and themes seems to be in a completely different league to its first half counterpart. Highlights include a rather funny 1950’s cooking pastiche(Joanna Woodward, Stephanie Jayne Thomson and Caroline Amer), a stunning dance duet (Katie Ella Hardwicke and Jennifer White)and a beautifully realised Japanese style finale.
Joanna Woodward as our host under her burlesque pseudonym Coco Dubois is the perfect host, witty, sharp and oozes sexiness, she also has a strong singing voice ably holding her own among her peers, but ultimately the night’s best moments are reserved for leading lady Polly Rae, her phone seduction version of Michael Jackson’s bad being particularly strong.
The Hurly Burly Show is a fun filled event, however there are moments where the production seems to be trying just a little too hard to please and running at just short of 90minutes (excluding the 30 minute interval) you may be hard pushed to find real value for money in these cash strapped times.