Last year, Elsie Diamond brought her cabaret-cum-burlesque show The Sensible Dresser to Edinburgh. Inspired by her ‘day job’ as a dresser within the theatre, Diamond interwove songs and stories about what actors (especially ‘divas’) get up to behind the scenes, with the traditional elements of burlesque. This year, she returns with a show whose title sounds like a variation of the last one, but is in fact quite different in its conception.
If The Sensible Dresser was a love letter to the theatre of yesteryear and its intrinsic magic, The Sensible Undresser is a fictionalised account of what some women go through on the road to being successful burlesque artists. While it does feature sumptuous costumes and songs galore, it doesn’t shy away from the less glamorous aspects of life.
Diamond highlights how dissatisfaction with one’s job and a disinterested partner in tow are universal, and it’s easy to see why a bit of glamour and adoration from perfect strangers would be appealing. The camaraderie between the performers are a welcome bonus too, a change from 9-to-5 jobs where there is an underlying competitiveness to everything.
Of course, once the honeymoon period ends, being a burlesque performer can lose its lustre. The purchasing of costumes can take up a disproportionate amount of one’s money, though with a bit of inventiveness, economising doesn’t necessarily mean looking any less glamorous. The show also raises the spectre of ‘getting older’, ‘gravity/pencils’ and – perhaps because the performers do look so glamorous on stage and are ‘put on a pedestal’ – finding it hard to find potential partners who will approach them and see ‘the woman behind the stage persona’.
Audience participation still plays a big part of the show, adding to the ambience and the closing routines have all the glitz and glamour you would expect of a show of this calibre.
© Michael Davis 2017
Elsie Diamond: The Sensible Undresser runs at CC Blooms (Venue 171) (16:15) on Aug 10-14, 16-21, 23-27. Suitability: 18+ (Restriction). Part of PBH’S Free Fringe.