Burlesque is a big enough reemerging subculture these days to warrant its own festival, where its own chief concerns — pastie sparkles, tassel swing velocity — can be considered on their own terms rather than be muddied up with notions of theatrics, dance, pacing and art.
That “Kubrilesque” is part of the Capital Fringe Festival owes more to its fringe characteristics than theater’s full embrace of the form. Still, it’s one of at least three burlesque offerings in the fest this year, despite their attention on not so much costume design as costume removal.
The Cherry Kiss production of “Kubrilesque” at the Gala Theatre at Tivoli is meant to parody the films of Stanley Kubrick, though more often Crystal Swarovski’s work uses half-remembered dialogue and scenes as themes for the series of stripteases.
It begins with odd promise, as a guy in an “Eyes Wide Shut” bird mask hands out programs while a guy named Jack types away on stage even before the show starts, evoking “The Shining.” Once the show does begin, a drag ballerina named Geegee Louise provides what turns out to be the best dancing of the night, before a series of scenes evoking “The Killing,” “Lolita” and “Dr. Strangelove” emerge.
Parody is not achieved; “Dr. Strangelove” itself was a brilliant parody. Presenting the inevitable ultraviolence of “A Clockwork Orange” proves gratuitous without the free-will framing, though the scene does have two things going for it: actual music from the film and the living replication of those sleek, white, molded-plastic benches in the shapes of naked women.
With a huge, apparently revolving cast of many shapes, sizes, skin conditions and tattoo choices, the nadir comes in an awful disco version of the “2001” theme, with primates cavorting before they, too, strip off the monkey suits. Whee!
Mostly, “Kubrilesque” commits the biggest sin in burlesque: It’s just dull.
The ploy to draw a wider audience into their world by referencing filmmakers may be taking hold, though. A burlesque tribute to Joss Whedon is planned in Baltimore next month.
Catlin is a freelance writer.
by Crystal Swarovski. 75 minutes. At Capital Fringe through July 27. Visit www.capitalfringe.org.