The Rude Awakening: Sex, Shame and Liberation
  • By Ben Dali
  • |
  • 17th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★

Amber Topaz, the inaugural Miss Burlesque UK, brings Edinburgh Fringe a burlesqueless theatrical cabaret experience that is personal, informative, and inclusive. The show is a flurry of musical parody, scientific insight into different aspects of the reproductive system, comedy sketches and anecdotes - and there is much joy to be had in it.

The relationship that Topaz forms with the audience becomes quite powerful by the end.

The opening is a little flustered, as she has to hush a riotous group at the back, she then immediately starts a call-and-respond rally with a range of synonyms for genitalia. The response is a bit flat as she is yet to establish a good rapport with the audience, the tameness continues as she launches into a geeky, unnecessarily bespectacled character offering a detailed scientific explanation of fertilisation. The first few minutes show some potential but feel disjointed as the premise of the show hasn’t been established yet and she hasn’t quite settled in to the swing of things. Nevertheless, the atmosphere certainly picks up as she increasingly wins the room over.

Topaz has a very good, but not quite remarkable, singing voice and performs some enjoyable numbers, including a parody of Wuthering Heights about periods, and Chandelier as a comically overblown boozed-up Irish character. By the time the slightly iffy first third is out the way, The Rude Awakening grows from strength to strength. Topics of discussion include puberty of both genders, masturbation and orgasm. This is not a show for the bashful. Certain segments are very feminine-orientated but never intentionally alienate men, and the male members of the audience will be able to access all the material even if they can’t fully relate to everything. There are some solid gags scattered throughout, and the relationship that Topaz forms with the audience as she feeds off their energy becomes quite powerful by the end.

Highlights include an audience member playing the bongos on her bum and ‘The Womb of Truth’, where she answers sex-related questions written out before the show. There is some ad libbing skill but there's much room for improvement. The end becomes quite personal, as Amber expertly polarises tragedy and comedy, leading strangers to embrace across the room. The Rude Awakening will appeal to a certain type of person, but age and gender should not be factors in determining its suitability for you. Despite a rocky first act, the finale left nobody in doubt that they had shared an experience with both the performer and those who made the decision to join them in the Voodoo Rooms that day. People seeking an informative and personal sex-positive journey with songs, laughs and a sense of community need look no further.

Reviews by Ben Dali

Underbelly, Cowgate

SK Shlomo: Surrender

★★★★
Assembly Rooms

Melinda Hughes: Off the Scale

★★★
PQA Venues @Riddle's Court

Comedy Hypnotist and Mentalist Mark Knight

Just the Tonic at Marlin's Wynd

Les Quizérables

★★★
PBH's Free Fringe @ Globe Bar

Dave Bibby: Crazy Cat Lad-y

★★★★
PBH's Free Fringe @ Voodoo Rooms

The Creative Martyrs: Kabarett DysUtopia

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Amber Topaz brings you an arousing, amusing, anecdotal romp through life, love and libido. Full of mind-blowing, fascinating biological facts. Intertwined with mad musical numbers highlighting the absurdity of human behaviour under the influence of hormones. An uplifting, life-affirming, thought-provoking journey through conception, chemistry and the quest for human connection. Best Cabaret award, United Solo Festival, New York 2018. Critics Choice, All About the Solo, New York. 'Cabaret show like no other' **** (FourthWallMedia.Wordpress.com). 'Physical comedy that's as glorious as her exquisite singing voice... It's a remarkable experience' **** (Gutter Culture).

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