The Verse’s Csenge Krokovay reviews Naked Girls Reading featuring Burlexe at Brighton’s Komedia, Sunday 21st May 2017
We can do it or Free the Nipple? Slogans we have all heard. Gender equality at its finest.
Gender equality has always been a highly discussed topic; from theatre shows to books, activists are all promoting ideas of equivalence. Although we have achieved great progress for the equality of women, there is still a lot to do for feminist fighters. Many women still suffer from discrimination and violence in every part of the world. The progress can not reach every country in the same way. Whilst in some places women still fight for their major rights, in western countries – luckily, we can push the fight further. For instance, as an ex-New Yorker, I know how much of an issue the over-sexualisation of the female body is. Being cat-called is an everyday problem in the city.
Nowadays, some feminists fight for equality in an interesting way: they get topless and sit in the crowded parks of New York. Some ask why? The answer is that they are fed up with having to cover their bodies, and want to be free to be topless just like their fellow men. With the attention they receive, they are trying to convey the message ‘Stop sexualising women’s bodies’.
Miss Glory Pearl and her two musketeers Fancy Chance and Holli Dillon carry a similar message in their show; Naked Girls Reading. Burlesque is a highly sexualised performance art, whereas reading is an everyday activity. Blend the two and you render nakedness normal and comfortable for the audience.
And this is exactly what happens.
The first half of the show is an untainted burlesque performance. The ladies slowly get naked, always showing a little bit more, all the while telling stories of famous burlesque dancers. It makes the audience ask, do we want to see more, or do we want to hear more?
The second half is when the production becomes what its advertised as; Naked Girls Reading. The three performers arrive on stage and get rid of their clothes entirely. Some people from the audience try to take photographs, but Miss Glory Pearl politely asks them not to. They start to read out from books; we hear passages from Dita Von Teese’s book on the history of burlesque, a vintage guide to strip for your husband, and a letter to a newspaper about ‘the blondes’ on stage who have no talent. Miss Glory Pearl reads from Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet, about a girl’s passionate love for a burlesque dancer.
The performance was not extremely professional, although we knew we did not come to a professional cabaret show. Throughout the readings some parts feel unrehearsed, and, sitting in the middle, Miss Glory Pearl had to help her partners with the reading mistakes and French pronunciation.
Overall, the show is interesting, charming and spontaneous, and successful with carrying out the feminist substance.
Featured photo courtesy of Komedia Press