July 11, 2013
By Rebecca Martin.
Burlesque is a strange beast. Once an underground culture of breasts, tassles and provocation, burlesque is now more of a blanket term for anything cabaret-esque, with touches of pantomime, a dash of taboo and a sprinkling of dance. There are more sequins than tassles and more tights than breasts these days. I blame Dita Von Teese.
I’m not saying that burlesque doesn’t deserve its turn in the spotlight or that its present ubiquity is a bad thing. After all, as Bowie once said, you can’t begrudge an artist for having an audience. Poverty does not equal purity.
At any rate, on a cold Thursday night in July I found myself at Ms Friby’s Two Pound Parlour at Revolt Art Space in Kensington. The parlour lured me in from the cold and warmed me with spinning prize wheels, the tinkle of piano music, and the promise of liquor.
It was lucky that the parlour was warm given that the show was billed to start at 7:30pm, yet we remained in the parlour until 8pm when we were ushered into the main performance space of the venue for the show to commence.
Ms Friby was the undoubted star of the show. She took the audience on a journey of mishaps (some unplanned), dance numbers, songs, and stage banter. The underlying theme was of comedy but some of the better moments of the show were when the performers were serious and executing clever choreography.
Some parts were hilarious, of course. The great spaghetti routine made its return (previously seen at Paul Malek’s Immersed industry night) and it was as glorious as ever. I was also fond of the sequence where the dancers were washing each other with water out of a toilet.
Two Pound Parlour walked a fine line between risqué and crass. Sometimes it fell one side of the line and sometimes it fell on the other.
Mr Friby was ably supported by her ensemble dancers and singers who not only had splendid voices but hit the right notes with their comedic timing. The live musicians deserve mention also, and their presence and music gave the night a more authentic parlour air.
Overall, Two Pound Parlour was a mixed bag but it was a fun affair and the team should be applauded for producing an entertaining and original piece, as accessible to the burlesque virgin as it is to the seasoned pro. No pun intended.