‘You don’t know what you’ve got yourself into’, the host of Danger Strip Show manically shouts several times throughout the show. For better, or for worse, it is mostly true. This joint production from Chaz Royal and the London Burlesque Festival lumps risqué burlesque with circus stunts to deliver a show that is indeed like few others out there, but that’s not to say that it truly excels in either endeavour.
One thing it does throw at you is entertainment. For a rollicking midnight show, performed to an audience likely fuelled by a cocktail of alcohol and anticipation, this is a show that is easy to enjoy. As the various performers perform their sets – basically traditional burlesque with sharp objects or fire thrown in for good measure, although plenty of other things are used too – they are clearly having a ball and take the audience along for the ride. These men and women are masters at teasing the crowd and riling them up, refusing to go on with their act unless they get to lap up the hollering and cheering of their admirers. It is fantastic to watch, with each act developing strong relationships with the audience.
While some burlesque shows go down the route of splendid grandeur and big staging designed to give audiences a grand old experience, some go down a much grimier and intimate road. This show ricochets down the latter, the acts going at a furious pace interspersed with brief sequences from the compere.
Sometimes it takes a while for the ‘danger’ aspect to rear its head, but it can do so in amazing fashion. Without a doubt, the highlight is the fire eating, which as seen here would not look out of place in a top-of-the-line circus. If you have never seen fire eating before, go here to see it close up because it is an incredible sensation in such an enclosed venue like the Piccolo tent. It is an awesome sensation smelling the brimstone as they exhale, exquisitely capturing the hot and ferocious nature of the show.
As impressive as the burlesque aspect is though, it is not unique. Many shows of this ilk offer everything this one does. The unique selling point is meant to be the tricks, but, apart from the fire, it often comes across simply as impressive rather than dangerous. It can feel like that kid in school who could stick needles through the skin on their thumbs, earning a gruesome respect from their peers – worthy of applause, yes, but by the end it can feel a little repetitive rather than the death defying, jaw dropping activities you may have been promised. However, the restricted size of the stage may form part of the reason behind that.
The compere is also something of a mixed bag. Taking on the persona of The Joker does occasionally work well, he reeks of sheer creepiness and matches the aesthetic of Danger Strip Show well. Some of his jokes and Batman references fall on deaf ears, though he does get to close the show in an entertaining and silly way that you can’t take too seriously.
Danger Strip Show is good for a midnight Fringe featurette if you’ve had a few drinks and are in the mood for bare, raucous entertainment. The performers, many of whom are semi-professional or professional burlesque acts, are all brilliant to watch. At times, however, it feels too tame to be really dangerous. If the ante is upped, then suddenly the spectacle could become even greater.
Danger Strip Show
Assembly George Square Gardens – Piccolo (Venue 3)
Until 26 August
Image: AhmedSamirGFX via Pixabay