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A CurtainUp Review
Eager to Lose
By Tyler Plosia
But soon a narrative begins to form. The emcee is in love with one of the dancers. And that dancer, in turn, is in love with the emcee. Predictable but thoroughly engaging madness ensues.
There's plenty of opportunity for hollering and cat-calling in Eager. ., but there's room for sympathetic cooing as well. Reliable burlesque numbers allow for purely a visceral — and lusty — experience of the play. And then there are dialogue-driven scenes where all of the conversation flows cutely but effectively in rhyming couplets.
The theater tradition doesn't end with the language. The back and forth of the tale of misbegotten lovers — The Emcee, played with endearing aloofness by John Behlmann, and Tansy, the dancer standout played by the serial burlesque dancer known simply as Tansy (she also choreographed the show) — is reminiscent on more than one occasional of Romeo and Juliet. And there's a late scene that revolves around a misplaced champagne glass filled with poison, no accidental reference to Hamlet.
You don't need to be a theater nerd to follow along, though. The viewer unfamiliar with Shakespeare will have no problem identifying the intentionally farcical plot turns. And of course the seductive, unironic dancing fails to entice absolutely no one.
The real power of Eager to Lose is derived from its ability to be both a clever commentary on the popularity and intrigue of burlesque while at the same time being an entertaining and unapologetic burlesque show. Physicality is prominent throughout: In the hypersexual dancing, the physical comedy and the demonstrative gestures. The language manages to be both tongue-in-cheek and meaningful while moving the story along.
Shepard Fairey, the graffiti artist and designer, has said "there's a way to be The Beatles, to have the smartest guy in the room and the dumbest guy in the room digging what you're doing. Eager to Lose is refreshing evidence that burlesque has the potential to have the smartest and dumbest guy (or girl) in the room drooling over what you're doing.