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Auckland Fringe 09
MissChief presents ...

at The Classic, Auckland
From 26 Feb 2009 to 28 Feb 2009
[2 hrs, incl. interval]

Reviewed by Nik Smythe, 28 Feb 2009

It seems to me that this kind of show is a viable dating experience for open minded couples... in fact the door staff seemed surprised I was there alone and I felt the need to explain I'm the critic so they wouldn't think I'm just sad, quite possibly actually confirming the reverse...

Emcee funnyman Jamie Bowen (0n the Friday*) competently carries a typically reticent Auckland crowd through the programme, managing to generate some energetic audience response with clichéd techniques.  Likeable enough, there's a bit too much running commentary on how well he thinks he's doing amusing us, and he needs to find other ways of saying, "That's what we like to see, ladies and gentlemen." 

The starring buxom beauties - Miss Eva Strangelove, Miss Honey Lamore and La Viola Vixen - each provide solid classic routines with different coloured large feathered fans.  They all fit the bill nicely, i.e. their corsets barely, and they sure know the moves all right, mm hmm.

The 'Chief Miss' of Miss Chief productions is Miss La Vida, award-winning Burlesque sensation and a worthy diva, going beyond the call of duty when she follows her opening classic lip-synch routine ('Keep Young and Beautiful If You Want to be Loved') with a clumsy but refreshingly original ukelele song about her disastrous love life.

The 'amusing men' it mentions on the poster comprise Bowen, musicians Dave Ward and friend who's name I didn't catch and the very funny Dan Bain, a juggler and escape artist who brings some real laughter with his absurd, bizarre routines including juggling dangerous objects while reciting Richard III with pegs stuck all over his face.

Backing up all the frontline performers, stagehand Miss Lushass is all class and appeal in her stripy trilby hat.  Platinum (and only) blonde Miss Ashley, collecting for the draw to win a burlesque kit including nipple caps and g string (I'm still waiting for my phone call...) completes the lineup of burlesque beauties, and not a surly skeletal supermodel among them.

While entertaining and genuinely delightful, there's nothing staggeringly original to behold on the bill.  The closest would be Miss La Vida's ukelele as well as the musical efforts of Ward and friend ...Oh yes, and front table guest 'John', in his Woodstock-esque floral attire, came right to the party when, following a tirade of jokes about men wearing flowers and LSD, Bowen challenged him to perform a 'boylesque' routine on stage for the prize of one of the girls' bra tag.

Nonetheless I think the Miss Chief crew succeeds in Bain's stated intention behind the entertainment to reach beyond the sordid and exploitive implications of striptease shows to create some real art.  Certainly, if not purely 'art', the craftsmanship is generally fine quality, raunchy yet dignified. 

* Thurs and Sat shows MCd by Andre King
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