Fringe Review: Kubrilesque (S. Chandler)

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, also, is evil.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, also, is evil.  As Stanley Kubrick suggests in 1971’s cult classic, A Clockwork Orange, and later in 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, one person’s party is another’s hell. Los Angeles’  burlesque troupe Kubrilesque not only comments on this paradox, they put it to a beat and get down to it, employing the familiar terrain of sexy striptease (pasties and feather boas) with a malevolent, underworld edge (whips, mouth gags, and an AK-47). What’s most impressive, aside from the economy with which they evoke twelve Kubrick films in just over an hour, is that they manage pull off not only sex and evil, but wry humor as well. It’s an admirable feat, and one that Kubrick himself never accomplished in Eyes Wide Shut, a sensual, disturbing, yet wholly unfunny ordeal that admonished viewers to take Nicole Kidman’s and Tom Cruise’s sex appeal so seriously that they’ve been a bit silly to us ever since.

Skeptics, take note of this show: for those of you who think of burlesque dancers as merely strippers with more clothes on, think again: these girls are pinups with a PhD in film studies, who tackle Kubrick’s oeuvre with brazen abandon and witty physical repartee. Elaborate costumes keep the audiences guessing: writer-director team Polly Peabody and Crystal Swarovski, understand the idea of  “leaving something to the imagination,” and wisely time their hot and heavy g-string moments to be the cherry on the cake––rather than the cake itself. Dance numbers surprise and charm perhaps more than they titillate, but isn’t that the point to burlesque? We leave the theater deep in thought, feeling a little bit smarter and a little bit sexier. Hmmm…sounds like a Kubrick film. 

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