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A CurtainUp London Review
Although the style is distinctly Victorian, the acts themselves are modern and innovative versions of the old vaudevillian tradition with elements of a freak show. The giant woman marionette with a slinky body opens the show as she mimes to a well known popular song, two men controlling her arms and leg movements. She is followed by two Australian men (Denis Lock and Hamish McCann) with an act called "The English Gents", who dressed in pin stripe suits and bowler hats, balance, do the splits, perform lifts and lifting splints all with that well know British stiff upper lip, while puffing a pipe, reading a newspaper or holding a brolly as if they were hailing a cab. Their closing feat sees them stripped down to Union Jack underwear, lovely bare torsos, but with long black socks and suspenders. Miss Behave wiggles her rear at the audience, tantalisingly clad in a laced up, skin tight, red rubber dress and then swallows a sword. She has many other cringeworthy "skills" and is a handy woman if you need to extinguish your cigar and there is no ashtray in the vicinity. Don't ask! But it involves her tongue! Mario Queen of the Circus (Clarke McFarlane) makes an appearance as Freddie Mercury in leather and combines the music of Queen and lots of strutting and jokes with juggling and unicycle skills, and juggling while riding a unicycle. These performers are nothing if not versatile.
The bizarre Captain Frodo with his far away gaze contorts himself through two stringless tennis rackets in a feat of double jointed exertion of the kind that makes you groan and turn away not bearing to look. He later moves up a tower of increasing small paint tins to sit on the top of a baked bean can- quite remarkable! Yulia Pikhtina from Kiev beautifully spins many hoola hoops setting up double helixes of silver whirling shapes. For my money there are two really outstanding acts. There's David O'Mer's original strap hanging gymnast from out of a Victorian enamel bath half filled with water, setting up aerial flumes of spray which are lit against the dark backdrop, making his act visually exciting and artistic. That is if you aren't already getting enough pleasure from his magnificent physique! I noticed a standing ovation for him from some attractive young women. He spins and turns and twists and dives on the straps and the front row are provided with a polythene blanket to catch the worst of the spray. It's witty and watery! Ursula Martinez gives us a first act strip. Starting off in a demure business suit she finds a small red handkerchief and makes it disappear like a magician only to find it in an item of clothing which signifies that this is what she will remove next. What makes this complete strip extra special is how much she enjoys it, showing off her slim, tanned frame with a really mischievous twinkle. It's a million miles away from the sleaze of Peter Stringfellow's completely naked pole dancing club.
The music is old fashioned and accessible, some of it classical romps like the Thunder and Lighting Poker, fairground music and classic songs from Queen. Get there early as the seats are unreserved and the nearer the front you are the better!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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