Bordello Blues

Shrouded in fans of red, showgirl feathers, our French prostitute heroine Isobel slinked across the stage for the big reveal. If burlesque is meant to be about making a spectacle, then Nikki Nouveau certainly made one; of herself.

By the time the peek-a-boo moment had arrived, one nipple tassel had slipped right off and the already thin illusion of the Bordello Blues vanished with it. A misplaced nipple tassel could be a pernickety criticism; it could happen to all of us. Unfortunately, it was the parting shot of a show that did nothing but disappoint.

Nouveau’s script was ridden with adult film clichés. Isobel is just a small town girl coming to the big city and prepared to do anything to make her fortune. She just so happens to have packed a whip. The story limped along through a series of Isobel’s letters to her parents back in the provinces. Nouveau purrs about the pitfalls of Paris in an Australian accent which is confusing for her audience and her French correspondents, no doubt.

The tease left little to the imagination but, far from being a sensual striptease, it all appeared very routine when Isobel slipped off behind her bordello room dividing screen and chucked odd bits of underwear over the top. The colour themes of her wardrobe were sinner red and bordello black which again, all seemed like a routine choice.

In order to keep the paper thin illusion going, there should have a barrier between audience and performer, as though we were looking through the bordello door key hole. Instead Isobel shimmied offstage to serenade the fidgeting men in the audience.

Bordello Blues is only worthy of its two stars based on the shows other performers who appeared intermittently with sensual dance routines. The interludes of dance depicting the object of Isobel’s affections and his ladyfriend were danced as well as they could be in performance space that did not accommodate for the choreography. The dancers could not fully extend and the lifts did not reach their full potential but these brief moments were still welcome.

Punters paid ten quid for just over twenty five minutes of kink despite being promised a lavish Parisian tale of of unrequited love and I believe they were short changed. The gentleman in charge of the technical side of things however, didn’t appear to have tired of the show at all and frequently cheered during moments that would have probably been a bit quiet; like the misplaced nipple tassel moment.

The Blurb

Isobel, a French prostitute, falls for her client in a tale of bittersweet, unrequited love. A glamorous and tragic world featuring fetish burlesque and the songs of Edith Piaf, Nina Simone and Hollywood screen legend Marlene Dietrich.