A raucously appreciative crowd packed out Madame Jojo’s last Wednesday to witness the latest in off-the-wall vaudeville spectacle from The Folly Mixtures Revue. At times you could have heard a pin drop, then jaws drop as the assembled audience oscillated between incredulity and amusement at the tightly choreographed and expertly staged burlesque ensemble before them.
Burlesque, boylesque, circus and satire fill up the 90-minute set, with interval. The Folly Mixtures, for the uninitiated, are a six-strong all-girl burlesque troupe, all of which enjoy great renown with the solo acts they perform regularly at British variety shows. At their own revue, the belles come together in heart-racing collective routines, interspersed with guest acts as well.
Magnificent hostess Laurie Hagen holds the show together with highly charged, cheeky panache, whipping the audience into frantic cheer, and tense anticipation too: when Hagen is onstage, nervous chortling precedes her playful bouts of “audience humiliation” (her words), as when an unsuspecting punter gets shoulder-straddled by the impish compère. A dangerous combination of physical and verbal skill, drop-dead beauty and utter insanity, the Belgian time-bombshell is a pleasure to watch.
The solo skits showcase the ladies’ many talents. In a singing interlude, Felixy Splits fills the stage with a ballsy rendition of All that Jazz. Liberty Sweet and Bettsie Bon Bon excel in classic burlesque, the former with a clever bridal twist, the latter with a bewitching fan dance. Continuing a darker tone set up by Hagen’s re-emergence as a corseted dominatrix (of the host’s many costume changes), Ooh La Lou takes to the boards clad in a leather cat-suit, angle grinder in hand, soon to entice belly laughter from the crowd with a shower of sparks from her crotch.
Demanding ladies like the Mixtures are very selective with the boys they invite to their follies. New York boylesquer Go-Go Harder makes a sexy romp out of satire with a deceptively delicate sailor number. Backed up by Yael Naim’s devastatingly erotic cover of Toxic, Bret Pfister (of La Clique fame) punctuates the evening with the physical poetry of his aerial hoop.
The Folly Mixtures Revue has something for everyone, from elegant cheesecake burlesque to inspired flights of bizarre comedy. Ripe with quirky, intelligent and eye-catching entertainment, it’s great bang for your buck, and a fine serving of burlesque for aficionados as well as the casual fan.
The Folly Mixtures Revue. Hosted by Laurie Hagen. Madame Jojo’s, London W1F 0SE. First Wednesday of every month, 20:00. £10. www.thefollymixtures.co.uk