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The London Folies

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This show - with its pseudo French title - is described as 21st century variety and burlesque. Well all I can say is that, on this evidence, 21st century burlesque is a remarkably respectable affair. The girls are all lusciously beautiful and they remove most of their pretty clothes in a most delightfully elegant way but never reach the 'full monty' - always finishing with nipple covers and G strings.

Polly Rae and her 'hurly burly girls' have been regular features at the Leicester Square Theatre since before Christmas, but for this show they've added several new items. One of them is the down and dirty comedienne Ivy Paige - “The Scarlet Temptress” - who comes on with a supermarket trolley marked “very used goods” and acts as MC, with some suggestive patter and a couple of rude songs including “If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Sit On It” which is ostensibly about a second hand furniture dealer. She's also responsible for initiating some dreaded audience participation.

James Devine is billed as a multi-talented leader in the percussive dance world and is in the Guinness Book of Records as the 'Fastest Dancer in the World' - 38 taps per second. Well that's great until he embarks on what seems like his fifteenth encore; an audience was moved to comment “this is supposed to be a Burlesque show”. Said audience member was then moved again - out of the theatre!

However Devine is really impressive in Act two when he dances the Flight of the Bumble Bee accompanied by talented violinist Waylon Luke. Luke plays sporadically during the evening and pops up with running gags throughout the show.

There's also a pair of jugglers from the Manu Laude company who juggle everything in sight (Champagne bottles, bowler hats etc) and finish their stint with amazingly dangerous feats with a bunch of machetes.

This Leicester Square Theatre is perfect for this kind of show, with a couple of long bars, one at each side of the auditorium. The London Folies is not a great revue show, but it is painless, the cast are friendly, the dancers’ costumes are attractive and, unlike a standard variety bill, all the artists are integrated into each other’s performances. A jolly night out for those who enjoy variety shows.

- Aline Waites


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