“Sweatshop” is back for a second year, complete with a new foreman, “Michael Angelo”. It features a slightly different line up to last year, but old favourites such as Betty Grumble, with her fusion of clowning and burlesque, give the show a familiar warmth and humour.
The show opens with a glorious burlesque routine, and goes from strength to strength with polished aerial and acrobatic performances, and a dirty Can-Can from Betty. There were two particularly standout routines. In one, a performer sat inside a giant cocktail glass, twirling giant cocktail umbrellas with her feet. In the other, a performer danced in white wings that became a moving projector screen. Both of these moments really showcased the sophistication and originality of this company.
By contrast, the “sweatshop” element of the show felt a little clumsy; we were reminded between acts in quite a haphazard way that performing is like slave labour, especially (nudge, wink) at the Edinburgh Fringe. From the company that really delved into a strong theme with Hot Brown Honey, it was a little disappointing to find that the theme of Sweatshop was really fairly superficial, and not thought through to anywhere near the same extent. What we instead had was a collection of incredibly high class acts, but little to link them in a meaningful way. I left feeling as if I had watched several mini shows, and while they were each brilliant in their own way, a more cohesive show would have been more engaging.