Twice monthly in the underground darkness of Soho’s Shadow Lounge, there is a room booming with sound and activity. Amid the relative gloom of the intimate space, a troupe of scantily clad performers circles its audience flaunting their enviable figures and smiling encouragingly while a rainbow of lasers whirls overhead. The audience, refreshingly, consists of men, women, young, old, gay and straight and no one is safe from the company’s talons. As the last few stragglers take their seats the evening begins, orchestrated by renowned drag queen Meth who blazes onstage like a yellow and black lightning bolt. The seductive sextet rotates in the spotlight, delivering a variety of performances ranging from some rather demure monologues and poetry to the eagerly anticipated striptease.
First up to perform is Phil InGud whose overtly flirtatious nature and bulging muscles have the audience giggling and fidgeting in equal measure. He delivers a mixture of camp and playful stripteases interspersed with dramatic speeches. Similarly, when ‘questionably hetero’ Randolph Hott takes to the stage, the audience hollers and shrieks appropriately. While the content and performance style of these two artistes is strikingly similar, Nick Stiletto’s acts are a combination of dance and physical theatre (where he also happens to take his clothes off). The troupe’s skivvy Bobby Dee’vah gets a brief moment of recognition as he bursts into a high energy dance break and special guest Fred Bear reenacts the iconic scene from one of his most beloved films: Flashdance. Meth, who hosts the show, struts about the stage treating us to intermittent performances between introducing the acts and swearing good-naturedly at the audience.
The company of Boylexe keep the audience entertained with varied ability. Undoubtedly, the performers boast devastatingly beautiful physiques that are paraded in front of the grateful audience but sometimes this is the only thing raking in the applause. There is a distinct drop in energy when the cheeky and playful striptease and dance is substituted for comparatively flat monologues. Special guest Fred Bear provides a refreshing change to the repetitive disrobing, cleverly combining charisma with an adorably tongue-in-cheek humour. Despite an unforgivable number of technical mishaps, the cast charge on, putting on a brave face. Yet this is only after several excruciating minutes of scowling at the sound operator. The whole show is admirably held together by Meth whose presence revives the audience. In the face of adversity, her quick wit and charming vulgarity keep the evening afloat and her gazelle-esque figure contrasts wonderfully with the bulky men.
All in all, Boylexe is an enjoyable evening of various theatrical disciplines that caters to a wide audience. However, this audience have come to Shadow Lounge for two things: bawdy jokes aplenty and minimal clothing. Technical hitches aside, this show provides a great springboard from which to start the weekend.
Reviewed by Alex Foott