It all starts well: I'm part of the congregation invited to the funeral "celebration" of Tempest Rose, an international burlesque star. However, the twist in the tale is that she's not speaking from the grave, but is actually very much alive – and in charge of the whole proceedings from start to finish. Tempest Rose (Ariadne Blakey) is flamboyant, opinionated and at times shocking, full of sharp asides and hilarious quips. She dominates the service and, after a fitting sing-a-long opening "hymn", we are introduced to a series of burlesque acts in honour of her death.
Burlesque strippers Luna Lafee and Garçon Diamond both command the stage, displaying outrageous confidence and some jaw-dropping dance moves. Storm Hooper juggles her rings with dexterity and skill. These are interspersed with audience participation involving a "moving" tribute to the hostess – written and directed by herself of course – and we are all a part of a pass-the-parcel type "will", containing personalised gifts such as a Tempest Rose make-up sponge and her favourite Best of the Corrs CD.
The real star of the show is the ever present, ego-centric Tempest Rose herself, who works the audience with a natural ease and likability. But while the mock funeral is an amusing concept, and provides an entertaining hour on a cold February night, I felt that the show could have presented something more distinctive when it came to the burlesque acts themselves. In some respects, it was really quite tame.
There was, however, a more serious message for the audience that prevailed under the frivolity of the performance. That no matter what your shape, size, religion, colour, sexual orientation – in fact, whoever and whatever you feel you are – you can celebrate and be proud of that. Be very, very proud. And stick one finger up at anyone who passes judgement.
And Blakey's right of course, even if it is not always so easy to do. I was envious of the fact that she appears to find it such a breeze – and if we all did our bit to feel the same way, the world might be a better place for everyone. I guess as George (God rest his soul) would have said, we've just "gotta have faith" and practice what Tempest Rose tells us. That's all.