Burlesque Classique’s mission is to reclaim the meaning of burlesque, not as something sleazy and demoralizing as many people assume, but as an energetic and titillating exaggeration of a story. Their newest show, A Midsummer’s Burlesque Dream uses Shakespeare’s famed play as its blueprint, taking the young lovers’ troubles, the fairies’ dispute, and the mechanicals’ terrible acting to the extreme through provocative dance numbers, zany humour, and a whole lot of glitter.
Using almost exclusively Shakespeare’s words, the troupe, impressively led by Director and Choreographer Lola Rose, stays extremely true to the original, albeit with its own unique burlesque flair. For example, after being rejected by Demetrius (Eric Cline), Helena (Emma Zonn) performs an evocative dance number to ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’ and she nearly succeeds in seducing him.
Meanwhile, Oberon (the imposing Sun King Davis) and his hobgoblin Puck (a very well-cast, spunky Karen Beriss) plot to embarrass the Fairy Queen Titania (the fierce Diva Darling) with a magic flower. As we all know, chaos ensues. But never has chaos been so spectacular to watch!
Darling saunters onstage draped in a sparkling cape and headpiece, which will later become the backdrop. The cast shimmies and shakes its way through dance numbers set to jazz, pop, and classical music selections that are as cheeky as the dancers themselves.
Of course, no production of Midsummer would be complete without the enthusiastic mechanicals, led with impeccable comedic skill by Sean Butler’s Bottom. His special striptease number had audiences in stitches.
A Midsummer’s Burlesque Dream is at its best during the fantastical forays into song and dance, so much so, that at times I wished they deviated even more from the script! The cast’s strength is clearly in the lush spectacle of the burlesque, not in Shakespearean language.
Lavender Noire (a phenomenal dancer herself and a standout in the cast) made a similar observation on opening night, when, struggling and tripping over a line, she broke character to shout, “F*** it! I’m a dancer!” The more this group leans into the burlesque aspects, the better.
Washington has seen many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream over the years, but this fun, flirty, silly, sensual romp is a creation of its own. Burlesque Classique has taught at least one more patron the true meaning of burlesque!
Running Time: 75 minutes, with no intermission.
A Midsummer’s Burlesque Dream plays through Saturday, July 23, 2016 at Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre – 1358 Florida Ave NE Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or purchase them online.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.
RATING: BEST OF THE 2016 CAPITAL FRINGE!