Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: Kubrilesque

GALA Theatre

Remaining Performances:

Today, July 12 at 10:45 p.m.,

Saturday, July 13,5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 20, 11:15 p.m.

Thursday, July 25, 8:30 p.m.,

Saturday, July 27, 12:15 a.m.,

Saturday, July 27 at 11 p.m.

They say: "A cohesive theatre experience combining different styles of dance and burlesque to tell the story of a director making his final film. The burlesque numbers thread together, as each piece parodies a different film from Stanley Kubrick."

Alexis' Take: Calling this much-hyped show "cohesive" is generous. Over the course of a little more than an hour, this greatest hits compilation zigzags randomly from one hit-you-over-the-head-obvious vignette to the next, like when "Spartica" removes her armor, piece by piece, to a heavy metal song. Or when Lolita skips around in creepy-sexy childlike outfits while wearing the famous Sue Lyon sunglasses, to a techno remix of that movie's instantly recognizable score (Wahh wahhh whoa whoa wahhh wahhh...).

But the plot that Cherry Kiss Productions has unnecessarily cobbled together to unite these scenes—a Jack Torrence type tries to make a movie, while various Kubrick characters are figments of his imagination—stumbles each time the actors struggle to recite (and often remember) dialogue. The less talk, the better.

Except that the stripteases are rarely as funny and brilliant as, say Peter Sellers in Lolita or Dr. Strangelove; more often they're pretty but leaden, like Barry Lyndon's Ryan O'Neal. And the fact that the show draws more from Eyes Wide Shut than Full Metal Jacket is, well, befuddling.

Worse, the constant imbalance of buxom, comely women showing off their bodies while the few men onstage stay entirely clothed (an exception is the wonderful, androgynous dancer Gee Gee Louise) reminds you of the already glaring woman problem in Kubrick's films—that they're mostly stuck in there for decoration. Take The Shining's Shelley Duvall, who is arguably Kubrick's most powerful female character, but mostly because she successfully escapes a psycho.

Another note: Malcolm MacDowell's "Singing in the Rain" rape from A Clockwork Orange is disturbing and unforgettable in that movie, and probably the first thing that anyone remembers about it. But to include it here, when Cherry Kiss could just as easily have done something clever with, say, the indoctrination scene (those eye traps!), misses the tone and context of that scene, and its importance in the evolution of Alex as a character. Instead, it feels like an attempt to make violence against women titillating.

Kubrilesque isn't all cringes. Kat De Lac, as "Lutza Cuntzsch," dances hilariously in Clockwork' Korova Milk Bar with a giant pretzel. There's an all-too-brief 2001 sendup with apes swiveling sexily and then shedding their furry outfits to reveal red, white, and blue bikinis underneath. And Bunny Vicious and Private Tails as the twins from The Shining, with "R-E-D-R-U-M" on their stomachs, are sinisterly impish.

See it if: You're obsessed with Stanley Kubrick.

Skip it if: You're obsessed with Stanley Kubrick.

A note about burlesque etiquette, for heterosexual males in particular, unfortunately: Viddy well, oh my brothers. Your humble critic would like to offer you burlesque nymphets a few guidelines to maintaining good form in the face of increasingly naked womanhood. Seriously, DEWDS. Unless you want everyone else in the audience to tolchok you in the gulliver, please remember that you are not Ralph Cifaretto at the Bada Bing. You are not throwing money at the stage and these are not hoo-ahs. These are performers with a range of training. They are real people. And yes, they're taking off their clothes. But they're also acting and dancing and singing and trying to find that sweet spot wherein intellectual and sexy and funny all combine forces (the light in our lives, the fire in our loins, if you will). I wouldn't have thought in a million years that a sophisticated D.C. audience would need any finger-wagging, but at the premiere I attended, unfortunately, a man sitting in the front row found it imperative to growl-yell "YEAAAH!" every time a woman showed some pasties or the hint of her butt. At one point, he even yelled at a woman with her back toward the audience, unhooking her top, to "Turn 'em loose!" (The "em," I assumed, being her boobies.) In the words of Hal 9000: Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop Dave? Stop, Dave.

  • https://www.facebook.com/velvet.kensington Velvet Kensington

    Also Regarding Burlesque Etiquette: As a Burlesque dancer myself and a member of the Kubrilesque cast, I believe the behavior mentioned was completely appropriate and I saw some of the other performers struggle without the usual loud encouragement from the audience. Unfortunately, because Kubrilesque lacks a host or mc, there was no way to encourage the other audience members hoot and holler more. I do not consider it disrespectful when they say "take it off" since we are eventually going to take it off.

  • Alexis Hauk

    I agree that burlesque is certainly not the opera and that the crowd should be into it. Other people were clapping, laughing and "woo-ing," for sure. However, the person I mentioned was way more vociferous, way louder and way more reactive to exposed flesh than the rest of the audience was, to the point where it drew more attention to himself than to the performers.

  • Jeff K

    Regarding Burlesque Etiquette: Most burlesque shows encourage hooting, hollering, oohhing, ahhing, and occasional money throwing and make an announcement prior to the show saying that. Perhaps that's where the confusion lies.

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