Reviewer: Rebecca Mickler
The Martini Lounge is billed as a Burlesque and Variety Show where it transpires that the best variety is displayed by the compare and the best burlesque is yet to be seen. This is a touring company boasting sell-out shows across the UK and leaving devoted audiences in their wake, but for virgin audiences – it’s a show without much panache.
Comprised mainly of Burlesque acts, the variety was largely uninspiring. The aerial artist for act ‘Black and Blue’ was clumsy and conservative and Burlesque act Trixy Malicious seemed new to the scene altogether when struggling to gracefully slip off her heels. Headliner Millie Dollar was classy and demure in her stripping but was lacking in sparkle and length of the act. Millie should capitalise on being popular among the UK Burlesque scene and give a show to remember, however the staging let her down. It comprised of a chiffon backdrop, a chair, and a large feather boa. The idea of Burlesque can spring to mind lots of frills, tassles, satin, enigmatic vixens, and a bit of cleavage, but the Martini Lounge’s interpretation leaves a lot to be desired.
The saving grace of the show was compare Fred The Bear. He himself had a flurry of devotees on the night proving his ability to connect well with the returning crowds. He was the most energetic act of the night confirming that good jokes and charisma can go along way. Surreal Seventies Star Trek based Burlesque act Fanny Chance came in a close second however; who seemed to also understand that humour can be just as sexy as a provocative dance. Her act again could have been longer and she could have exploited the unique idea of retro stripping even more by perhaps adding a few other Seventies TV show references.
The Epstein Theatre does not help matters along when trying to watch the show. The Front of House staff appear to have ants in their pants, constantly running along the back and the aisles of the theatre during the performances adding unnecessary distraction from the show. What was even more disappointing was that the show was billed as ‘7pm doors’ in the theatre guide with no sign of a show start time anywhere, but did not actually start until 8.45pm. If punters are made clear of the actual start time of a show then they can enjoy more time in the bar beforehand instead of waiting in the theatre for over an hour which was what some poor audience members did. This clear lack of direction for this revived theatre is off-putting.
In general, the Martini Lounge seem complacent of their popularity among regulars and appear happy to keep the shows ticking over with the idea that nudity alone is enough for a show instead of offering compelling, fresh, and glittering acts for newer audiences. The company and the Epstein theatre do need to buck up their ideas for the sake of longevity.