An Awkward Seduction
The Secret Refuge for Wayward Beauties @ Nexus Cabaret
9:00pm, Thu 4 Mar 2010
It’s a stumbling start as two women, ostensibly dressed in the uniform of burlesque with which we Fringe-goers have become all too familiar, wander across the stage with no sense of order, of purpose; they’re unsteady on their feet, as if their heels are foreign to them, and the band behind them already look bored. The saxophone is far too hot – in fact, levels are all over the shop, much like the harmonies.
Fake accents, initially charming in their stereotyped wrongness, become grating by the time we get to Is That All There Is?; unfortunately, the stilted posturing of the cabaret set was replaced with the tedious Miss Direction and her “iSize” application skit. And then… and then…
We Float. Now, I love this song – it’s one of the best things PJ’s ever done, I reckon – so when I picked up on those bass and piano lines, I sat up. A pretty blonde took to the stage, surrounded by the helium balloons that were tied to her bra and panties. Now sure, her atonal rendition of the soaring chorus would have been affected by the fact that she was continually trying to steer the balloons away from her face, but boy did she murder that song. Killed it dead.
And then, as the band trudged through the outro of the song, the pièce de résistance: she awkwardly pulls out a pair of scissors and cuts the straps on her knickers and bra (in that order, tossing any semblance of strip “tease” out the window) to let the balloons float away with her apparel, leaving her onstage, naked, prone, accompanied by the dying strains of of a beautiful song.
I guess that was the plan, anyway.
What actually happened was that she awkwardly had to de-mount the panty/balloon saddle, which then slowly rose upwards… until they hit the air-conditioning duct directly above her, whereupon the balloons held fast; the underwear hung just above her eye-level. The bra managed a bit more altitude and slowly wafted into the rafters of the Nexus.
The song played on, and she stood there, naked, obviously at a loss for something to do. Much like the audience, then, who could do little more than look past the panties at her, or at the ceiling-bound bra. She shrugged helplessly, throwing her hands into the air in a “what can I do?” dismissal, then left the stage. The emcee’s harsh accent returned and bid us all goodnight.
Now, I get the fact that there was supposed to be a bit of bit of bumble, an element of amateur, and a tongue planted firmly in the cheek for this performance… but none of it came off (and, if it indeed did go off according to plan, was painful to watch). I’m pretty sure that deliberately looking amateur only works if (ironically) you’re already pretty good; and sadly, the Wayward Beauties are not. And, all things being equal, that’s OK – after all, everyone has to start somewhere – but the dealbreaker was that they just didn’t seem to care… and that’s unforgivable.
I was honestly shocked to discover that this was the second performance of An Awkward Seduction… because this felt like a rehearsal. This felt like the first dress rehearsal, where they were just running through the show in order to figure out blocking problems. Afterwards, I wandered up to Higher Ground, lamenting the fact that I’d decided to have a Dry Day – alcohol would have helped wash away the memory – and I bumped into Rose; she was far more scathing than I. Such was the aftertaste of An Awkward Seduction that I almost skipped my next show…