Miss Polly Rae: Between the Sheets – Underbelly Festival

Miss Polly Rae: Between the Sheets continues at the Underbelly Festival, Southbank, London on 18 and 25 August, 8 and 29 September.

Star rating: two stars ★ ★ ✩ ✩ ✩

If you are around the Southbank between now and 30 September, it is worth exploring the Underbelly Festival.

A cornucopia of entertainment – including circus, comedy, cabaret and family entertainment – offered alongside street food and bars in a pop-up festival park, creating a vibrant location for people who want to have fun.

One show playing during this popular event is Miss Polly Rae: Between the Sheets, an adults only revue.

Miss Rae is joined by a handpicked troupe from the world of contemporary burlesque, circus and dance.

The art of burlesque has been around for centuries and originally was an entertainment aimed at the upper classes – it was a classy act.

It was American burlesque which introduced the more erotic dance acts which evolved into striptease, making stars of performers like Gypsy Rose Lee. Like all art forms it went into decline, but in recent years there has been a revival and burlesque is back.

Rae’s show encompasses everything you’d expect from this style of entertainment – comedy, dance, singing, aerial work, fire eating and striptease.

There is plenty of interaction with the audience, lots of gyrating hips (and bits) and several songs sung well by Miss Polly herself.

As the dominatrix of the piece, Rae enters in several glittering figure-hugging costumes – sadly the rest of the artists are not so well costumed and the male performers look positively drab.

The aerial work is good and Kitty Bang Bang’s playing with fire routine is pretty impressive too.

However, what this show lacks is a good script, pace and professional technical support. The lighting is appalling, the sound muffled (Miss Polly introduces all the cast but names are not clear), the staging clumsy and the choreography unimaginative.

This show, directed by Laura Corcoran, needs a big kick up the butt. The cast has to be convincing. It is not enough to talk in a slow deep voice and think that is, in anyway, titillating – you have to ooze sex appeal from every pore. The men, in particular, look bored.

The main comedian, Lilly SnatchDragon, is a success with some of the audience members, but her routines are too long and at times offensive because of the style of delivery. The strip routines are mediocre. No performer can rely on a half inebriated audience to make his or her job easier.

Burlesque is hard work, it needs to be slick and polished, and while this show has potential, the cast could really do with classes in the art of seduction.

Yvonne I’Anson

www.underbellyfestival.com

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