Fringe review: Kubrilesque

Sure to be a hit of the Fringe Festival...

Kubrilesque @ Divadlo Na Pradle

Cherry Kiss Burlesque, visiting the 2009 Prague Fringe Festival for the first time from Hollywood, California, provide a retrospective of the twelve major works of iconic film-maker Stanley Kubrick explored through the lens of traditional burlesque. Using Kubrick’s films as the frame, creators Crystal Swarovski and Polly Peabody, employ a bevy of beauties, colorful, elaborate costumes and fast-paced, charming musical selections as they salute the female form and challenge popular conceptions associated with such canonical films as 2001, Lolita, Spartacus and the Shining among others.

 One thing that is really hard to do is to be both funny and sexy at the same time and Kubrilesque often succeeds at both. This is a thinking person’s burlesque and the hordes of men prowling the streets as part of Prague’s ubiquitous stag parties will be well served to go straight to Darling Cabaret and leave this performance to people who actually like their sex served with a good dose of irony and playfulness.

 The performers vary in skill, body types and ability. It seems no accident that two of the three most successful solo acts feature the creators. Director and co-writer Crystal Swarovski’s “Killer’s Kiss” sets the standard with a routine featuring some traditional ballet and some not so traditional gloves and underwear. Smartly and humorously teasing the audience with scarves coming from places that would put Salome to shame, Swarovski playfully engaged one lucky audience member in a unique tug-o-war that will not be forgotten.

 Co-writer Polly Peabody is clearly both the most accomplished and comfortable performer in the burlesque. Sensuously slim and curvy, her coquettish singing in “Paths of Glory” almost stole the entire show and as Master of Ceremonies in the most suitably erotic portion of the evening “Éyes Wide Shut”, she lent a poise that kept that particularly infamous proceeding both appropriately bizarre, classy and sexy.

 The most fun is without a doubt to be had during the “2001” sequence between the dancing gorillas and the Esther Williams inspired swimming sequence complete with perfectly synchronized eye-lash batting. A few slight wardrobe malfunctions seemed to inhibit one of the better and more seductive dancers, Olivia Bella Fontaine, in “Killing” where a terrifying clown excites us and then expires us in the best tradition of le petite morte. Bioloxi Brown in “Lolita”, with Woody Allen photo, lollipop and hula hoop gave the performance most resembling a modern strip-tease minus the nudity (there is none in the entire production). Honey Holiday, in “A Clockwork Orange”, gives a terrifically spunky dance perfectly channeling the spirit of Malcolm McDowell (complete in white jock strap jumpsuit), so captivating it was almost a disappointment when the she began taking off her clothes. However when the clothes did start to fall away, followed by a burst of gorgeous red hair hidden underneath a wig, Holiday’s sensuous contortions transformed the piece into a new realm of sexuality that the audience was sorry to have end. The smartest and one of the most electric moments of the evening came in “The Shining” when the girl behind the mirror comes to life, reaching across dimensions to embrace the possibility ever-present in the air—that of girl-on-girl action.

 Overall, this will sure to be a hit of the Fringe Festival and the production was smart and sexy, but would benefit from a little more of the blatant sex appeal of Swarovski, Peabody and Holiday to balance the comedy and commentary. Kubrilesque is at its best when straddling (sometimes literally) the irony of the event and Kubrick’s work without apologizing for the sexuality of the performers.

 

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