The Burlesque Hour

I found The Burlesque Hour by chance, breezing through the local street press. I was looking for things to do at the Fringe festival. Of course, I haven’t been yet, because the universe plots against me going.

Anyway, I’m at the Street Theatre. The night has shifted down to being cool as an open fridge. The oven-heat of summer has gone. I finally feel I have energy again. I roll up my sleeves to take it all in. I feel brilliant. The Street Theatre sits on the edges of one of this city’s universities. New buildings have sprung up, absorbing vital car parks. Some of the construction is nearly completed, new cafes, restaurants and convenience stores are stocked and shelves stacked, setting up for trade. The evening light filters through the skeletal steel and concrete of unfinished buildings. I walk under street lights made of two-dimensional coloured shapes. In the distance I can hear the sound of drums and symbols, people practicing for a parade involving a Chinois Dragon. Bang, tisch, bang, tisch, bang, tisch, tisch, bang, bang, bang.

Inside the foyer of the theatre are people hanging around the bar, huddled and cuddling glasses of pinot noir, bottles of semillion and the occasional beer. I go over to the booth, and the girl behind the anti-theft glass asks me what I want to see (Answer: The Burlesque Hour), my name (Answer: Anonymous) and where I heard about the show (Answer: Some local street press – she seemed a little perplexed about this one). I hand over my bread and take my ticket. Then I wait. The people around me are theatre-goers. Or at least one half of them should be. The thing I find about people who like the theatre and the stage, normal move in packs. But sometimes, and I’m seeing a lot of this tonight, they also come as couples. And you can see that some of the pairs, that one partner was obligated to go. However, I am alone.

Eventually, the bell rings, tolling for us to enter. Inside, the stage is with a runway that descends into the front row. Tables and chair are arranged around the runway, giving people with drinks and booze an opportunity to continue watching the show. The curtains are red and crème. Red Chinois lanterns hang all around, like angry, or possibly horny spirits. The sign, advertising the title of the show, is set with bulbs in a heart shape, looping in a flashing cycle. Ushers direct the drinkers to their runway-view seats. I sit a couple of rows up, wondering how this will play out.

Now seeing as there is one more day that this show will air, I don’t want to spoil any surprises. However you should expect a trapeze performance, dancing, singing, blood, balloons, milk, numerous underpants, strawberries, a two hundred pound female gorilla, and some nudity. You should seek to sit as close to the stage as possible. And wear your most expensive, stain-vulnerable clothes. You want to look your best after all.

That all said, it was slightly different in terms of what I was expecting for burlesque. I was thinking more classical style of burlesque. Something along the lines of the Velvet Hammer, or a show that followed the vaudeville in the days before colour film and when Orson Wells was scaring people with Martians. By the time the show ended, I found myself leaving the theatre with a spring in my step, breathing in the cold night air. Goodbye Summer.

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