A flight of Fancy
We take off from the top floor of a converted Shoreditch warehouse with pink lighting and round tables. The air is warm, the curtains are drawn and the sweet sound of elevator music fills the room: like a tornado in baby blue, Fancy Chance (AmeriKorea Air flight attendant) chucks a pack of mini cheddars at my head.
This was a good metaphor for the show to come – rosy burlesque dreams followed by a 129 calorie slap of honesty in the face. Fancy took us a on a wild, glitzy, 60 minute journey through her life so far: beginning with her adoption in Seattle after being found in a box outside of a Korean police station, she swings us back and forth from dreamy burlesque to sharp satire, played out by a variety of weird and wonderful characters, all alarmingly emerging from a massive suitcase. And like a Mary Poppins of London cabaret, you are never quite sure which persona she’s going to pull out next.
With in-flight entertainment ranging from a fitness instructor/trolly-dolly in black leotard and pumps to a card-board-sign-toting North Korean girl singing the national anthem (with its lyrics on one side of the cardboard and the words ‘I’M STARVING’ on the back), Fancy Chance’s ability to flit between many characters is astounding. And her costumes – in particular the last multi-flag/multicolour spectacular of a jumpsuit, worn under a traditional wedding dress – were simply fucking brilliant.
So too was her use of visual media. Ri Sol-Ju (Kim Jong-Un’s squeeze, in case you’d forgotten), is probably the last person you’d expect to see at a comedy burlesque show, but there she was, played by Fancy on a larger than life screen at the back of the stage, skyping her son at boarding school and showing you her power suits and croissant breakfasts. This was what the show did best – it made you laugh out loud at something that in retrospect you shouldn’t really have found that funny, i.e the shocking difference in quality of life within a military dictatorship, the worsening problems of increased housing prices in London, and the misogyny and racism of her in-flight dating app. With Tinderesque characters 23 seats away flashing up on the screen with messages that went from the standard ‘wanna shit on my face?’ to racist slurs about Korean, Japanese and Chinese women being ‘all the same’, she managed to create a silent and uneasy atmosphere in the crowd, extinguished as quickly as it had arrived with yet another one of her creations.
But what really struck me was the honesty with which Fancy talks about her life and experiences. From her childhood in a white neighbourhood, to the bittersweet song to her mother, there wasn’t a moment where I felt that the show was unauthentic. Despite its quick-fire delivery, its impression was deep, and the only thing that did let down this mile-high tour de force was the performance space: having to use such a large venue for such an intimate show wasn’t ideal and it took the crowd a little while to warm up.
So what? Flights of Fancy was still an energy-packed thrill ride that added a new and welcomingly fresh taste to the burlesque scene. I don’t think there are many people who can say they’ve seen someone do a striptease singing along to Creep by Radiohead after pretending to be tripping balls on acid – it’s a work of art to behold.
Friday 15th September ad Saturday 16th September at 7.30pm.
Tickets: £9.50/£7.50 For more information and to book: www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk