October 28, 2015
Joe’s Pub, NYC
Seattle’s loss in NYC’s gain, but don’t worry if you don’t live here. Burlesque’s dyke darlings, Kitten n’ Lou, are a showbiz machine sure to be hoofing through your town soon. When they come, don’t miss their newest two-person show OVEREXPOSED. It is a theatrical confection sure to please.
Kitten La Rue is a fluffy femme who towers in heels over her masculine counterpart. A gum-chomping doll, she was clearly raised by drag queens. She gives face and attitude for days. Lou is an adorable dance dynamo who strips down to a Sailor Jerry-style nude suit with a very modest, size appropriate (but no less intriguing) package. While I have heard him compared to Chaplin and Astaire, for me Lou has the rambunctious charm of a young Donald O’ Connor.
This show traces the perils and pitfalls of a couple in love with each other, but bound as much by their love as by their ambition. Performed in pantomime, and narrated in voice over, we follow their story as told through solos and duets. Occasionally costume changes are covered by video footage which cleverly inserts them into classic dance moments in cinema. Their cultural touchstones are diverse and sophisticated – everything from a very young Rosie Perez shaking it on Soul Train to Nijinksky’s Afternoon of a Faun.
While OVEREXPOSED is technically a burlesque show, it could easily be presented under the header of “clowning” or “drag” or even “modern dance.” All of these references are in full display. While the escapist pleasures of burlesque are in effect – eye candy in the form of funny and inventive costuming and props – it is the deeper and darker themes that run through Kitten n’ Lou’s work that make them major performers.
We see them exploring ideas of male ego and power when Lou gifts Kitten with a present: a dress emblazoned with dozen of pictures of his face. He then unpacks a picnic and aggressively attempts to ply her with beer. The scene devolves into Lou masturbating his beer bottle until it shatters in his hand. It is an evocative scene that conjures many different emotions, managing to be both entertaining and slightly disturbing.
The same mix of emotions is in play when Kitten n’ Lou perform their signature number “Last Dance.” Initially it appears to be a leisure suit tribute to disco partner dances. When the Donna Summer song becomes a literal “last dance” as the pair guzzle Drano in a double suicide a la Romeo and Juliet, you know you are dealing with performers with brains as well as bodies on display.
At nearly the top of the show, the two do a lip synching act to the 70’s chestnut “You Don’t Have to be a Star Baby (To Be In My Show),” making it very clear that, well, you kinda do have to be a star, baby. How do two ambitious people make it work? The answer is by being honest about their desires, fierce in their dedication to their dream and superlative performers at the height of their powers.