Cake! Directed by Corin Andrade and created by burlesque impresario Ché Monique asks a profound, yet comical question: What happens when a 300 pound woman jumps out of an eight-foot birthday cake during a burlesque show?
As part of this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, Cake! tries to answer the aforementioned question and address the disruption and consternation that it causes, from various perspectives.
The show is based on Monique’s real-life decision to jump out of a cake at her Capitol City Burlesque and Cabaret’s (she’s the co-founder) Black Friday show last November in honor of her 30th birthday, at Gala Hispanic Theatre in Northwest, D.C. By bearing all the behind-the-scenes drama of that misadventure of a show, the talented and likeable Monique made the personal the theatrical.
“The cake was huge, cuz I’m no size 6, and everything went wrong, the show started super late, the bar ran out of liquor, the cake was never completed,” she was quoted saying recently to Lucrezia Blozia in an interview on DCMetroTheaterArts.
“I didn’t do the act, but I did do a f**k it strip, while eating the cake; people thought I was making fat jokes about myself, two girls quit the troupe immediately.”
Lana La’Rouge (the performers strictly adhere to stage names) opened things up with a PG strip tease act that gave way to a comical monologue filled with complaints about ego trips and lost routines and how she didn’t get to perform (“My solo didn’t get picked up.”) because of Monique’s cutting, changing and rearranging of the performance order.
I liked the scene between Monique and Chris Jay reenacting their conversation about Monique’s peculiar birthday tribute to herself. Simply staged with two chairs in front of a red curtain, the scene took the audience along the path to Monique’s fateful decision.
Angel’s excellent monologue (from the perspective of an angry theater goer that night in November) about her disappointment in the show was powerful and hilarious—one of the highlights of the show. “Seriously!?” Angel repeatedly yelled about the Black Friday show, after vaulting herself from a front row seat in the audience. Angel complained about everything from how the bar ran out of liquor to how the MC (Monique) made the show all about herself, and how she walked around on stage making fat jokes “like we’ve never seen a fat person before. I was ready to make it rain [dollars].” Angel, you broke legs girl!
Dainty Dandridge had similar complaints to La’Rouge: not enough performance time. She spoke of being ready to take the stage and show her best stuff, “Today we going to get into it!” But in the aftermath of the Black Friday show, she opined about Monique, “You don’t want to respect the Black woman.”
Those who run organizations, particularly in the arts, tend to have enhanced egos, which Monique had no problem infusing into her performance. Most people duck and cover when things go south. Monique’s attitude was: “Let’s take the cake to the Fringe.”
Monique, in a soul-baring monologue, explained more than you’d ever want to know about the cake (created by “drywall mud and red paint” by performer Sindalicious; and struggles getting the cake on and off stage and so forth); her decision to do a birthday tribute to herself, and everything that went wrong that night. And she doesn’t skip over the fallout from the show, the performers who quit, and angry e-mails to the tune of “You don’t believe in black women.”
Through it all, Monique portrayed herself as not only an artist committed to “body positivity,” who loves to push the envelope and go after a “big vision”, but a stoic captain of a burlesque ship, capable of displaying a stiff, upper lip about her Black Friday show: “I don’t regret it.”
After Ché’s monologue, there was a big, edible reveal that involved her “f**k” it strip and, an ending audiences will love, that involves—cake. Part confessional, part burlesque show, Cake! is a treat you must take a bite of, chew, and savor to the last morsel.
Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.
Cake! plays through Sunday, July 24, 2016 at Capitol City Burlesque and Cabaret at the Elstad Auditorium, Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington,DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111or purchase them online.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.