Dr. Who Burlesque with Dainty Rogues
This weekend local burlesque group Dainty Rogues present Doctor Who: Or How I Learned To Stop Time and Love the Dalek. It's a stylishly sensual and occasionally sexy dance theatre inspired by the long-running BBC sci-fi show. The decades-old story of a time-traveling man and his many companions and incarnations is lovingly referenced in a program of dances accompanying music from French techno duo Daft Punk’s 2013 album Random Access Memories.
A number of incarnations of the Doctor show-up right away to pair-up with an equal number of the Doctors’ companions. Thus begins a dreamy surrealistic narrative fugue in dance form. The first half also concludes with a very elaborate and cleverly-conceived multi-Doctor dance in which numerous companions are saved by a number of Doctors all at once. It's like an impressionistic rendering of a constantly recurring dynamic in the long-running series. There's some very charming variation in and within some cleverly integrated symmetry. Very cool stuff that fuses contemporary dance theater with an evolution of traditional strip tease burlesque.
There are 13 individual songs in the show. Much of the narrative bits play out in pairings and groupings of dancers. Costuming is fun without being too elaborate. There are numerous direct references to the BBC’s character, but there are enough deviations from it to feel as though we’re watching Dr. Who from a sexier parallel dimension in which people communicate only in dance. Visual representations of the main character range from a short, boyishly feminine David Tennant to a voluptuously alluring Tom Baker-like woman. Funny that it feels as natural here as it does. The BBC could learn something from the diversity in this cast with a female Doctor and an African-American in the mix. There’s a variety in movement and body type that amplifies the visual fantasy of it.
In and amidst the more specific renderings of plot elements some classic iconic imagery filters-in. Somewhere in there we find a sensual dance between male cyberman and female cyberman.
A couple of perfect replica Daleks (courtesy of Dalek Asylum Milwaukee) show-up onstage after intermission, wave hello to each other and proceed to observe a sensual slow dance by Raven McCaw. The Daleks are very iconic...it's strange to see them in such an uncharacteristic moment live and in three dimensions. By the end of the song, the Daleks arms and blast guns are draped in lingerie. It’s adorable.
While the show does quite well in solo moods with McClaw and the Daleks and a particularly cute bathtub dance with noted burlesque personality Faye Tahl, the show really excelled in big group moments with multiple Doctors interacting with their companions. The diversity present onstage is punctuated by countless little interactions between characters. Pippy Pickfair has some endearingly clever comic moments in various crowd scenes. She’s got great instincts for nonverbal physical comedy that actually manages to deliver a very thought-out character without any dialogue at all. Pickfair and others provide vivid characterization in and amidst the overall run of a story that features Daleks and Cyberman bathing in contemporary techno dance by Daft Punk. The show ends with a rather dazzling, little dance impression of the TARDIS dematerializing. Polly Amour hypnotically spin colorful LED hula hoops as an animated representation of the transit appears on a screen behind her.
Dainty Rogues' Doctor Who: Or How I Learned To Stop Time and Love the Dalek runs through Jun. 4 at the Next Act Theatre on 255 S. Water St. For ticket reservations, visit Next Act online.
Here's a look at a few Doctors dancing for the show courtesy of Dainty Rogues' Facebook page: