It’s hard to know which is more painful in this Christmas-themed burlesque show – the half-hearted faux sexiness or the forced audience participation.
While compere Astrid Martin is more likeable than the raucous man-eater she’s keen to portray, you’re unlikely to appreciate opportunities to ‘practice clapping’ and ‘join in’ with sea shanties from a man called Admiral John unless you’re a primary school child.
At times having as much in common with pantomime as cabaret, the series of rotating acts tonight includes the winner of Burlesque Idol 2012 Violet Blaze. She has more polish and better costumes than everyone else – including breathy singer Vesper Fontaine, who has to make do with rolling around on the floor in shiny red nylon – but a fan dance with ‘disappearing’ clothes does little to reinvigorate a style of performance that was tired ten years ago.
Harvey H Hendricks, self-defined ‘Stage Kitten’ is more fun – a Michelangelo of La Clique-inspired gent who opens the show with a comedy strip that is more amusing than anything else that follows. Little Lady Luscious is also bright and bubbly, although her routine is the familiar stuff of 1950s seaside comedy. Quite what the well-dressed older Chelsea audience think of it all can only be guessed at from their sympathetic laughter and unsure cheers.
Drayton Arms, London. Until 22 December
Written for The Stage