I confess: when the opportunity arose to review a burlesque show called Babes In Space II: The Wrath of Thong, I squeaked happily and jumped on it. I am a longtime fan of the burlesque arts, and have had the great fortune to be warmly acquainted with a number of first-class practitioners of the craft. Because of this, admittedly, my standards of burlesque performance are pretty high. Even still, the revue cast of Wrath of Thong left me cheering and shouting for more.
â€œStar Wars vs. Star Trek burlesqueâ€, as the evening at The Revival was billed, was a somewhat general theme, and pieces fell into two clear categories: those that had been crafted from the geektastic bottom of a die-hard fanâ€™s heart, and those that had been embellished with a little theme around the edges but were not terribly thematic. It didnâ€™t matter much â€“ they were all great â€“ but I do love a theme.
Star Wars seemed better represented than Star Trek. The crowd thrilled to a stripping Stormtrooper (Skaii Walker, bringing the realness with her Star Wars tattoos), a dirty Darth Vader – it would be difficult to explain exactly what she did with that light saber, but trust me, you want to see it – and a winsome lass enamoured with a wookie all in the mix. A drag Princess Leia (Heroine Marks, a Zeldaâ€™s favorite), dancing to a meticulously crafted and hilarious mash-up track, also makes a strong case for the Force.
Star Trek comes in strong, bringing a latex-encased boy-lesquer as the redshirt you hope lives a little longer and an aerialist in a Borg-inspired cube (Miranda Tempest, also well known for her fire performance) â€“ all posing marvelously to a Trek-inspired soundtrack. I wasnâ€™t quite sure that Star Trek on stage had enough presence to answer for the huge crowd cheer that went up during the Wars/Trek audience throwdown, though. Perhaps the Trekker performers were at home, enjoying some other forms of exploration.
Lighted hula-hoop dancing (gorgeous in the space) and a bellydance performance rounded out the show, along with a truly hilarious rendition of William Shatnerâ€™s Common People. Production values were uniformly high at this show â€“ great sound, solid lighting, and fairly good sightlines. The performances were jazzy and polished, and many of them were quite clever – a choice the audience clearly appreciated.
Red Herring, a Toronto burlesque performer and producer, did a great job curating a night of performance that very clearly thrilled the audience. Some of them were, er, quite visibly delighted indeed, and if thatâ€™s not the measure of good burlesque, then I donâ€™t know what is.
Babes In Space II: The Wrath of Thong plays at The Revival, 572 College St, once more: September 1st.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.