Review: Late Night Lip Service *****

Late Night Lip Service

Cabaret and Variety

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre – Main Theatre

Aug 24th-25th


***** 5 Stars

Waiting in the rain for an hour while firemen check Rose Street Theatre for flames is never the ideal way to start a show, but I can hardly fault the producers for this unfortunate anomaly and I’m begrudgingly pleased that our safety is their priority. Once happily seated, albeit soggily, Gingzilla is the unashamed star of this show. She wears her provocative demeanour with pride, has consistently magnificent hair, and her many creative exploits between acts often steal the spotlight. I particularly enjoy her slip-and-slide paint-party, in addition to her popping the balloons which coalesce to form her costume.

Gingzilla hosts the audience interactions – a ‘lip synch for your life’ and a catwalk. Keen volunteers battle for supremacy, with crowd participation the collective judge. In this case, clear victors emerge almost instantaneously in both events. This does nothing to lower the entertainment value though, as the winners are outstanding and a joy to watch. They could also be fellow Fringe performers, but the overall effect is one of even more bang for our bucks, so nobody seems to mind.

The first feature presentation on the Saturday night I attend is the Scottish female rap trio The Honey Farm, who usually blow me away with their smart, scrappy, satirical lyrics. This sit-down gig suggests their fun and bouncy beats best suit a dancing crowd though. I’m also unconvinced by their choice of songs, with both of them relying on a particular word for comic effect. However, those who don’t have the benefit of comparison love The Honey Farm and they are undoubtedly an interesting inclusion in the show.

Danny Beard is up next, with the type of act perhaps more predicted by the crowd. His strip-tease as James Bond may not be particularly original, but it is a lot of fun, and Danny is proficient at entertaining.

Johnny Woo sets the next scene with a cheeky rendition of “What you think you looking at, faggot?”, getting the audience singing along with gusto. One of the many highlights of the night is when Johnny resolves a conflict with a wayward drunkard, who doesn’t obey his instructions when invited on stage for a dance. The situation is resolved with grace and strength, and the quality of the lap dance procured by the second (more obedient) guest surely has the discarded man kicking himself for missing out.

Jesus L’Oreal Christ oozes charm from the moment they appear looking suspiciously like Buddy Christ from the film Dogma – all beaming grin, flowing robes and fluffy halo of hair. The subsequent striptease therefore feels deliciously sinful – like polishing off a massive slice of Devil’s Food Cake. It is the right amount of titillating and libidinous and its final image – a small pink light, resplendent in the dark – lingers on.

Calvin Arsenia and his percussionist set the show ablaze (metaphorically speaking – we didn’t have to recall the firemen) as the final act of the evening. Calvin, on harp and vocals, is an empress. Her manner is stately and distinguished, and the tenderness in her renditions of popular songs transforms them into modern and unfamiliar material. It is the perfect end to Late Night Lip Service – tasteful, yet still suggestive. I walk back out into the rain gladly, on a giant high. 

Joanne Harrison