Burly-Q--The Burlesque Sexperience | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Burly-Q--The Burlesque Sexperience

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Burly-Q!--The Burlesque Sexperience, at the Playground. This show, written and directed by Michael Flores, is a good idea gone horribly wrong. Struggling to re-create the last, fading days of burlesque, Burly-Q! awkwardly incorporates local variety acts and adds stripteases so halfhearted they manage to make two topless women uninteresting. The thin story involves a manipulative young woman (a wooden Katherine Lee) who wants to try her luck onstage. She's instructed in the ways of the theater by the arch emcee, supposedly heartbroken over the loss of his lady love (though as played by Jason Powers he seems flamingly gay), and by a weary veteran stripper (Sarah Masters), who intones without a trace of irony such advice as "you've got to start living for today, because tomorrow might never come."

Local acts change nightly under the guise of auditioning, but on the night I attended even the talented magician Jeff Bibik, the sweet-voiced Allison Bazarko, and the weird, sexist, but charming vaudevillian comedy team of McHenry & Goldstein fell flat under the weight of the actors' collective boredom. Under lighter or quirkier hands, this might have been a cult hit. Instead it's painful both for those onstage and those watching. Only Ronald Bruce Meyer as Jack, the survivor who owns the club, makes this hour bearable.

--Jennifer Vanasco

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