Pros: Miss Tempest Rose is a charismatic, gorgeous and glamourous host who entertains effortlessly.
Cons: Not all the acts will float your boat, but that’s the nature of variety.
Excitement and escape: the atmosphere at London Wonderground’s Spiegeltent on the Southbank draws its mood from circus, theme park, festival, cabaret and rodeo club entertainments. This cavernous performance tent is a dream venue for burlesque performers, with audience members intimately wrapped around every curve of the circular stage. With cosy booth seating at its perimeter and a bar both before and after the entrance, you’re sure to feel relaxed on arrival. But this calm won’t last. For House of Burlesque’s latest show in this unique venue, Straight Up, the smoke machine is set to high, and items of clothing (on stage!) are disposable.
Right from the opening act you feel that you’re in the presence of professionals. The troupe wears strobe outfits that come with their own electricity bill, and one unimaginably flexible dancer wows the audience with hoop action that you certainly won’t see in the playground. I was instantly transported to memories of Las Vegas shows, and I had that same satisfying feeling of sitting in the dark somewhere comfortably when, boom!, I’m suddenly told, look at this! Straight Up is based around the subject of drink. Since there are lots of acts, each exploring the theme, the pace moves quickly – as do the costumes – so there is always something new to entertain you. Because, in addition to the striptease, this is a genuine variety show: a male burlesque performer, Cirque du Soleil-style air acrobatics, salsa, group numbers, singing, dancing and seductive solos hold the stage one after the other, giving ticket holders a lot for their buck.
The acts are knitted together by expert ring mistress and singer Tempest Rose, director of House of Burlesque. Tempest’s lovely singing voice and funny banter with the audience made the evening for me; without its host holding it all together, Straight Up would certainly lose its identity as an authentic burlesque experience. The good thing is that even though the show maintains this traditional cabaret club style, it doesn’t feel out-dated. All the girls performing approach their striptease with their own, unique personality, so nothing feels old hat. Of course I preferred some to others, because I’m a human being with tastes and ideas, but collectively I think they all worked well thematically.
The costumes are suitably sparkly and the corsets, suspenders and high briefs are truly enviable – all the women look stunning. I think some of the acts may have stripped down too quickly: in their state of semi-undress the performers carry such a powerful, seductive attitude that I was slightly disappointed sometimes when the final reveal arrived earlier than expected. I suppose you only get so many minutes on the stage, so I understand they’re stripping to a deadline!
Playing every Thursday at London Wonderground until the end of September 2015, Straight Up is a definite summer must-see for any fans of Cabaret or Paris’ Moulin Rouge. The Southbank’s Spiegeltent is designed for a great night out, so you‘re sure to have fun with friends in the comfortable surroundings of this inviting tent, with lots of beautiful things to look at too!
Director: Tempest Rose
Box Office: 0844 545 8282
Booking Link: http://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/whats-on/house-of-burlesque1
Booking Until: 24 September 2015