Featuring skits inspired by real life interviews with contemporary burlesque performers and stories “of the legends” along with actual dancers saucily stripping, Burlexe at Soho’s Shadow Lounge aspires to be the Vagina Monologues of burlesque. How’s that for a Wednesday night out on the town in London?
Starring the grand dame of British burlesque, Jo King, and sensational R’n’B singer, Kele le Roc, Burlexe takes a look beyond the stage into the world of burlesque – how the dancers got into it … how they cope … how the industry’s changed over the years … the highs, the lows … the good, bad and the ugly.
And if you think such dancers daringly expose themselves when they’re topless and wiggling onstage, you should see ’em when they’re recounting tales of tough luck in a sexist society.
Maybe there’s a bit more Vagina Monologues and slightly maudlin than certain fans of burlesque would prefer (some of the subject matter is rather heavy stuff and might not be the sort of thing you’d hope to ponder about during an evening out with friends). Still, tongues are planted firmly in cheek for most of the show – and there’s plenty of other “cheek” on view to please any discerning Burlesque fan.
I, for one, enjoyed myself immensely when I checked out the show earlier this month. I laughed a lot. I blushed as dancers made eye contact, took to the audience and once when one performer ran her finger along my jawline. Ooh la la! As I understand it, the dancers change from week to week. My visit saw an exceptionally seductive (and very good actor) Chloe Ewart and an agile and kinda wacky Amber Topaz wow the audience. Every performance wasn’t perfect but what was good was really great. And I felt the little imperfections along with the bare bones non-set (just a state, static lighting and a DJ) added to the behind the scenes feel of the show.
Burlexe runs every Wednesday night (with no end date that I know of) from 7.30pm at the Shadow Lounge, 5-7 Brewer Street, W1F 0RF. The nearest London Underground station is Piccadilly Circus, but Oxford Circus and Leicester Square are nearby as well. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets cost £25 (just under $40). To find out more and to book online visit burlexe.com.
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Photo: Chris Osburn