Lashings of Ginger Beer
Lashings of Ginger Beer

Lashing of Ginger Beer Time @ C

2/5 stars
Not as original in form as content
Feature by Gareth K Vile.
Published 17 August 2010

Since cabaret is not a scene known for its homophobia, it is debatable whether Lashings of Ginger Beer Time needed to be quite so clear about their sexual politics. The explicitly feminist burlesque, a trans stand up and the sing-along revolutionary numbers are, as the host insists, political correctness gone mad.

In itself, this branding is no bad thing: cabaret is a contested area now, with critiques flying from feminist journalists and the issue of queer visibility remains important. Unfortunately, this cabaret never rises above the sloppy standards that bug neo-vaudeville, with weak performance skills undermining the flashes of insight and brilliant humour.

The token striptease takes burlesque's satirical edge at face-value and parodies both pole dancing and the objectification of women: wonderfully uncomfortable, it reminds how striptease can still have a concentrated message. Sally Outen, the stand up, despite dealing with the challenges of being trans had a charmingly personable manner, taking the sting out of some unpleasnt encounters and showing genuine promise as a raconteur.

The production values of the show let down the politics, however. The singing is wobbly, bad sound obscures lyrics and the opening number - a reworking of Cole Porter's "You're The Top" - has trouble working out whether it is a critique of patriarchy or a celebration of BDSM. The other musical theatre tunes are straight up rhetoric, subverting the Lion King to celebrate lesbianism or Ce Sera Sera as an anti-heteronormative call to arms.

Politically, this is sound stuff, and the company are obviously intelligent and brave. The quality, however, would not stand up against other revue shows, limiting the cast to their own night and not giving them the chance to cross-over into, say, The Bongo Club. Perhaps Lashings is about creating a safe queer space - which is valid. Unfortunately, as burlesque is starting to discover across the Fringe, it is difficult to defend bad art on ideological grounds.

As a shambolic night of queer identity, Lashings is comfortable and successful. Its proud statement of intent does ignore the queer politics of Dusty Limits, or even the sort of cross-over with queer sexuality evinced by cabaret's participation at Edinburgh Torture Garden. Such good intentions are welcome but could do with a little more professionalism in performance. Ironically, Lashings falls into the same trap as mainstream burlesque, where the audience is complicit in the acts' pampering and pandering.