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World Buskers Festival

Ribald, Energetic, Adults-Only

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Performing to a sold out crowd, the Buskers Burlesque is showcase of song, burlesque, striptease and clowning by a group of award-winning artists who turn taking their clothes off into an art form.

Hosts, husband and wife duo the Daredevil Chicken Club, set the pace and the bawdy tone and give us the first of many inventive flashes of skin.

Australia's 'Queen of Burlesque' Imogen Kelly is all class. I'm particularly taken by her magnificent pink feathered flamingo get up, which makes its way to the floor to the sound of Peruvian singer Yma Sumac.

Chicago-based performer Michelle L'Amour, Miss Exotic World 2005 and one of the United States' best known burlesque performers, starts off with a lesson in classical music appreciation and finishes up with a bit of raunch.

Nate Cooper, a Cirque de Soleil performer based in Las Vegas, turns falling down into an art form. He stumbles about on roller skates, swigs from his bottle of Listerine and admonishes the crowd, before offering up some high stakes juggling and one of the best transformations of the night.

There's also a song from London-based cabaret performer and drag artist Le Gateau Chocolat, whose lush baritone and outrageous wardrobe seem to have won him a substantial fan club in the two years he has appeared at the Buskers' Festival.

It would be churlish to ruin the various reveals; suffice it to say that Christchurch's reputation for conservatism takes a battering during Brisbane performer Captain Kidd's athletic and wonderfully salacious boylesque routines, each of which leaves the audience roaring their appreciation. Take that, rugby culture.

The production itself has a swift pace, with the lighting, sound and smooth scene changes all contributing to the evening's momentum. It is great to see the stage manager, Tim Bain, being given due respect by both the performers and the audience during the show's curtain call.

However, as with so many other shows in 'transitional' venues such as the Big Top tent, visibility can be a bit ropey if you're not near the front so it is worth getting in early. This annoys me, not just as a member of the audience, but because these performers are at the top of their respective fields, and they deserve to have their work seen properly.

The Buskers' Burlesque is ribald, energetic, and an adults-only highlight of the festival.

BUSKERS BURLESQUE (R18)

THE BIG TOP, BUSKER PARK, North Hagley Park, Christchurch
Until 25 Jan 2014

Reviewed by Erin Harrington, 19 Jan 2014

Ribald, Energetic, Adults-Only