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Yummy review at Underbelly, London – ‘drag cabaret that never catches fire’

The cast of Yummy at Underbelly, London. Photo: Helen Murray
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Australian cabaret Yummy combines drag, dance, circus and burlesque performers. It has led the way in incorporating women in drag spaces. The show has the potential to defy definition and break boundaries but it feels a little tame for 2019 tastes.

The company is made up of seven performers who swiftly rattle through their set pieces. The opening ensemble number sets the tone for the evening: it’s sleek and polished with gorgeous costume design and perfectly executed choreography but, perhaps, too perfect: the effect is a little safe.

There are dazzling moments. A dead ringer for Taylor Swift, hula-hooper Hannie Helsden’s megawatt smile lights up the stage whenever she’s performing. Her solo act, in which she transforms into a human slinky, is utterly charming, cheeky and full of flair. Lithe dancer Benjamin Hancock’s skill in expressing emotion through his body is extraordinary, and his dark and moody interpretation of Paloma Faith’s Only Love Can Hurt Like This – complete with head-gear featuring a video projection of a mouth – is weird and wonderful.

These moments also serve to highlight the lack of exuberance elsewhere. Many of the acts are bizarre rather than edgy, while others feel overly serious or peter out just when they should burst into life.

The result is an evening that feels clunky and lacking in the kind of tension and anticipation needed to whip an audience into a frenzy. It’s all very entertaining, but more solidly satisfying than truly delicious.

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Entertaining mixture of cabaret, circus and drag that never quite catches fire