Stripped

5 Stars

*****

This one-woman show by Hannah Chalmers promises to take us behind the scenes of what goes on in the dark, deceiving world of the Strip Club.  So what were my preconceptions upon going into this show?  I envisaged a seedy world, full of catfights, bitching and cynicism.  And this view wasn’t entirely disproved.

The plot is based around the entry of ‘Baby’ into the world of stripping.   Throughout Chalmers adopts a number of different guises: Baby herself, the stern house mum Donna, the two-faced Portia, bumbling punter Geoffrey and the thoroughly loathsome stip club manager.  Chalmers plays Baby with a sweet naivety that proves a touching counterpoint to the somewhat more uncomfortable moments of the show.  We follow her progress as she loses her innocence and adopts the world-weary attitude of the other girls in the club – that men are there to be manipulated.  Baby is a well-rounded character, and you feel for her as you see her taken advantage of in a number of ways.  However, as the show progresses you find your loyalties shift.  As Baby becomes accustomed to her situation you wonder who exactly is taking advantage of whom.

Chalmers is an engaging performer and seamlessly shifts character, clearly distinguishing each.  Her talent engages throughout and as a result the audience genuinely experience a number of emotions as we follow the story: sympathy, revulsion, outrage.  But if all this sounds a bit dark, don’t worry. Chalmers endeavours to show that there is also humour to be found in Baby’s situation, particularly in her audition routine for the club.  As her stream of consciousness pours forth it showed the touching human side to the character, exhibiting her hope and fears and drawing a number of laughs from the audience.

From this grubby world, Baby emerges, tarnished, but still holding on to her fundamentally sweet nature.  It’s undoubtedly a show that will not cater to everyone’s tastes, but it more than fulfilled mine.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Gilded Balloon, Sportsman’s Bar

16.15 – 17.15

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