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BWW Review: THE STRIPPER, St James Studio, 11 July 2016

Imagine Midsomer Murders meets Rocky Horror Picture Show by way of Twin Peaks and you're halfway to appreciating the glamorous underbelly of THE STRIPPER.

With musical lyrics (featuring plenty of bare-faced cheek) by the zany pop culture icon Richard O Brien, Stripper combines the geeky naivety of our Rocky Horror heroes with a hard-boiled detective story by Carter Brown (the literary pseudonym of Alan Geoffrey Yates). Musical arrangement comes from prolific composer and O Brien's long-time collaborative partner, Richard Hartley.

Lieutenant Al Wheeler is in town to investigate the mysterious death of Patty Keller, who was possibly pushed/jumped/fell from the 15th story of a building. Wheeler was there at the time of her death, but the autopsy reveals not all is as it seems.

Stripper is set cabaret style with the audience sat at round tables, rubbing up against the stage, and participation is an obligation, not an invitation. The cast is only five strong and yet they play at least double the amount of characters via many accents.

It's difficult to work out who steals this show. Marc Pickering's Harvey Stern is a nervous flower seller and unlikely lothario with impeccable comic timing in his big number "Hearts and Flowers".

The glorious Gloria Onitiri bares her soul (and a lot more) as the eponymous lead. Her voice is spine-tingling in the melancholic numbers "The Lonely are Legend" and "Planning My Big Exit".

Hannah Grover takes on three characters who could not be more different: the frosty Sarah Arkwright (ironically a matchmaker for lonely hearts), the vivacious Annabelle from the Sheriff's office and Sherry Mendez, the fiery Latina. Grover plays each so very well a fellow audience member didn't realise she was all three.

Sebastien Torkia as Lieutenant Wheeler does a fine job considering he never leaves the stage, narrates the whole shebang under a full moon spotlight (when he's not womanising, or drinking) and overlooks proceedings with wry detachment.

Finally Michael Steedon's Jacob Arkwright (long-suffering husband of Sarah) is empathetically awkward as he tries to negotiate with his wife, much to her chagrin.

It's smutty and sexy and there's plenty of smoking on stage - you could say it's the Full Monty (groan).

Picture credit: Origin8 Photography

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From This Author Kate Finburg

Kate is a part-time journalist living in London and working in the television and film industry. Passions are London leisure time and exploring our capital (read more...)