Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Last Supper

This is real burlesque.
The last time I saw a burlesque routine dealing with religion, it featured a simpering girl dressed up as a nun, unable to inhabit the power of the character and pandering to a cheering audience. If the Wau Wau Sisters don't offer a complete critique of Christianity in The Last Supper, their burlesque acrobatics scatter bullets at teenage chastity and its inherent pornographic fantasy, New Age paganism and the idea of burlesque itself.
In just under an hour, the Sisters terrify the audience, swing on a trapeze, sing country songs while balancing on each other, dress two audience members as satyrs, end up fully naked - as they point out, no commodification of the body in this show - and make the link between rough hewn live art and cabaret.
The Wau Waus refuse to bow to any sort of theatrical courtesy. Their aesthetic is immediate, ragged and vigorous. They are utterly fearles, whether engaging directly with the audience or tackling taboos. Unlike most burlesque, their talk of gender is no insipid fig-leaf for self-aggrandisement. Even better, they have a talent that doesn't just involve undressing and smiling at the audience.
Despite the mayhem and apparent aggression, The Last Supper is a funny, feel good show. The serious message, about embracing change and fearlessness, is expressed not through rhetoric but the ferocious pace. This might be a long way from the vaudeville tradition, and anyone hoping for cheap thrills will be disappointed when complacency receives a sharp slap.

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