Review: Le Bouge Neon (Underbelly Festival 2017)
Le Bouge Neon, a “disco drama” created by Moulin Rouge dancer Fallon Dee and comedian Chris Fitchew which claims to “celebrate women, art and tease”, is one of a pleasing number of burlesque and cabaret shows included at the Underbelly Festival this year, all taking place in the twinkling Spiegeltent.
The success of the production’s discotechnology varies, from indistinct film clips at the beginning, to strikingly effective projection on Fallon Dee’s cape in the finale, bringing the show’s aesthetic to life in dazzling technicolour.
The group numbers, performed by Fallon and her ‘Bougettes’, are somewhat lost in translation. Some routines are performed against the back curtain with poor lighting, and one replicates an iconic Crazy Horse Paris routine move for move. In some cases the choreography appears under-rehearsed, lacking sufficient connection with the audience.
Jose Ivan’s pole routine is more skilful and engaging, but a demonstration of standard tricks and maneuvers rather than a fully fleshed act. Acantha Lang is a soulful, charismatic chanteuse, channeling Aretha Franklin in a spirited solo performance, and accompanying a routine by aerial duo Starfiz, which is visually pleasing, but lacks strength and purpose. Fallon Dee’s fan dance is competent and shows off her showgirl physique, but is somewhat generic. It would be nice to see some signature touches and personal interpretation colour the routine.
The star power of world class burlesque performers Betsy Rose and Kitty Bang Bang is a much-needed injection of quality and stage presence, but their performances suffer from poorly edited soundtracks – evidently not of their choice – which end prematurely. Consummate professionals, they soldier on. Betsy is an angel-faced seductress, teasing like a trooper to a boudoir version of I’m So Excited, and Kitty rounds off the evening with a flawless fire routine.
A troubling element of the production is its host, Chris Fitchew, who assaults the audience – literally and dangerously in one instance – like a drunk, offensive party guest no one remembers inviting. His self-indulgent, painfully prolonged stints between acts slow the pace to a crawl, with off-key singing and clumsy props. His antics culminate in the presentation of personal items from a woman’s handbag, held aloft for the audience’s inspection. His contribution to the show demonstrates a concerning lack of awareness and professional stagecraft, and seems entirely self interested.
Le Bouge Neon, with its high tempo soundtrack and feelgood philosophy, has the potential to be an enjoyable production, but currently lacks the sophistication, charm and polished execution to be taken seriously.
Le Bouge Neon at Underbelly Festival 2017 reviewed by Holli-Mae Johnson.