Enough buttock already! It’s not a sentiment one is often moved to express, but there you go: well before Aussie drag/burlesque troupe Yummy’s show drew to a close, I felt the buttock quotient to be quite high enough. Others may differ, and I might have too, had all those exposed hindquarters been attached to performers as striking as Jarred Dewey, Iconic’s standout artiste. With Dewey, moustachioed like Clark Gable and red of stiletto, the high camp and sexual display is subordinated to extraordinary skill – whereas elsewhere, it’s an end, so to speak, in itself.
There’s a place, of course, for a bit of performance slap and tickle. But I didn’t find Yummy’s variety especially distinctive. In one routine, an audience volunteer is given a choreographed bump-and-grind massage. In another, performer Jandruze assembles an outsized sandwich before bringing her bottle of mayonnaise to an erotic climax. In both cases, you’d better find the premise hilarious, or the gyrations outrageous, as there’s nothing else going on.
Both sketches, like the others in this 60-minute show, are scored by strident electropop, usually lip-synched by the six-strong cast. Occasionally, our mistress of ceremonies, the drag queen Valerie Hex, appears to pad things out with boilerplate audience participation and well-meaning cliches about inclusion and queer pride. Hex brings us closest to the advertised “side-splitting comedy”, but not very close, as she delivers a prop magic routine to Prince’s When Doves Cry and sashays across the stage in costumes that might make her compatriot Dame Edna blush.
If you’re not enjoying any given set-piece – I could take or leave Velma Vouloir’s feather-fluttering stripteases – there’ll be another one along soon. Jandruze’s fire act, swirling great candelabras of flame around her head, makes for a dashing spectacle, and the Britney Spears medley has one wishing for more such moments of punchy collective choreography. As it is, Dewey provides the highlights, wrapping himself every which way around a trapeze, flexing his sinewy frame into improbable shapes when bringing the show to its acrobatic close. Here, then, is a performer with skills to really compel the attention – which isn’t consistently the case elsewhere.
At Underbelly festival, London, until 31 July.