Seattle boylesque troupe Mod Carousel is gracing the Brickhouse in East London for one more month with feature-length show Wham! Bam! Kaboom! before they have to fly back home. This spandex-laden superhero spectacle delivers a colourful, fun and sexy show, pitching a trio of metahuman strippers against a singing villainess (synth pop singer-songwriter Leeni, who doubles as compère for the show).
Unlike many burlesque shows, this one has a plot. Our handsome heroes battle over three episodes to save the world by jumping into (and out of) a variety of costumes and disguises. As the antagonist, Leeni rips into the unprotected underbelly of American kitsch including ludicrous pops at Cher and Celine Dion.
At one point, she introduces Trojan Original as “aimless and hot and ripped,” and the literally comic strips that follow certainly live up to her claim. From Trojan’s oiled extravaganza to Paris Original’s Ugly Duckling routine (a highly entertaining dance performed en pointe), this show had me giggling, blushing and singing along. I will be seeing it again before it jets off.
The Brickhouse has a challenging structure unseen in any other London variety venue. Its thrust stage, encroaching on the first floor of diners and two levels of balconies looking down at the action, makes the vertical environment quite intimate. Leeni singing My Heart Will Go On while hanging down from the railings, with arms stretched a la Titanic, is one of many striking gags that crowds get to enjoy at close distance.
An interval follows this strangely climactic moment, which gives me the opportunity to sample The Brickhouse menu. Pleased to find an abundance of promising vegetarian dishes, I go for the French bean salad, rigatoni and ginger and kiwi mousse, all of which I recommend heartily.
As you might have guessed from a live show about singing superheroes in bright costumes, Wham! Bam! Kaboom! doesn’t take itself too seriously. It may not be to your taste if you only like traditional burlesque. However, if you’re after a fun night (maybe with a gang of your girlfriends), Mod Carousel’s tongue-in-cheek antics are not to be missed. Do bring cash to throw into the tip hat at the end: we wouldn’t want these hunks to run out of baby oil now, would we?
Wham! Bam! Kaboom! Written and performed by Mod Carousel. The Brickhouse, London E1 6RU. 8-12, 15-19, 26, 29-31 May, 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 June, 21:00. £10-45. http://www.modcarousel.com