The Hurly Burly Show

Published March 14, 2011

When the pre-show warning about mobile phones and camera equipment includes fellatio among its list of banned actions, you know subtlety is not high on the show’s agenda.

Such is the case with contemporary burlesque revue The Hurly Burly Show, which brings the art form more readily associated with cabaret clubs and lounge bars to the West End’s Garrick theatre.

Brandishing glittering sex toys and, dressed as Marie Antoinette, mispronouncing “Let them eat cake” – I’m sure you can work it out – is not the height of sophistication, but Miss Polly Rae and her Hurly Burly Girlies aren’t shy about piling in the rude references as they mix humour with seduction, and dancing with flirtation.

Under the artistic guiding hand of William Baker, who is best known for his work with Kylie Minogue, the eight dancing girls remove clothing, wiggle and shake nipple tassels through a range of group routines and solo slots. Top-hatted dancers at a bar answer the often troubling question “What would happen if A Clockwork Orange met Sweet Charity?”. In psychedelic sweatbands and not much else a trio work out on bouncy Swiss balls to Olivia Newton-John’s Physical. In an opulent bed, Polly Rae delivers a lounge club version of Michael Jackson’s Bad given a saucy phone sex makeover.

Each routine has a distinct feel, from the honky tonk saloon where women wear chaps and not much else, to the deliberately provocative sexy convent.

For all the big numbers, a couple of simple solo routines stand out, with Sarah Louise Buckle recreating Flashdance and Kitty Bang Bang doing things with flames that would make a fireman blush.

Call me prudish, but there is something distinctly uncomfortable about watching women dance in various states of undress when you are clutching a pen and paper, making notes on the proceedings. The non-note-taking members of the first night audience had no such qualms, showing that there is a niche in the market that the Hurly Burly Show, with all its double entendres, would be more than happy to fill.

MA