Edinburgh Fringe 2010
A smash hit success at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, ‘Busting Out!’ is a hilarious and affectionate tribute to those most celebrated lady bumps, the breasts. Extraordinarily talented performers, song and dance, a shadow play, sketches and incisive comedy make this a joyously funny must-see.
Busting Out! is a comedy sketch show all about boobs – or norks, baps and bazookas, as they are variously called throughout the evening. From shadow puppetry to singing Abba, there’s nothing Emma Powell and Bev Killick’s breasts can’t do. Clever skits, witty musical numbers and some audacious costume changes are all part of the fun.
As soon as the audience walks in the camera trained on them makes it clear that they will be expected to be part of the show. This good-humoured inclusiveness extended right until the end when everyone was up and dancing out of the room. Costumes, lights and props were used inventively to great comedic effect, and the music-led shadow puppet show was inspired. ‘Boob TV’ amplifies the performance, sometimes just making the fine details visible to everyone but sometimes almost acting like a third character. Admittedly, there clearly isn’t an unlimited budget, but this just means that the show is led by the inventiveness and comic abilities of Powell and Killick – qualities they have in abundance. With just a few props they create memorable comic characters and wickedly rewrite classic songs from West End musicals.
The show’s press claims that ‘Busting Out! is an audacious, raucously entertaining, funny, thoroughly theatrical, inclusive, empowering and affirmative celebration of the female body.’ Call me cynical, but I have a sinking feeling when something calls itself ’empowering’ or ‘affirmative’. I always suspect it’s going to be painfully worthy. Combined with my natural squeamishness when it comes to shows that revolve around people’s private parts, it would be fair to say I had reservations. Thankfully, these were well and truly dispelled by the genuine warmth and wit of the show. It’s not gratuitous, it’s not worthy, it’s just really, really funny. Powell and Killick’s total ease in their bodies was infectious, and their jokes were joyful, taking in both saggy breasts and surgical enhancements without judgement or moralising. By showing (literally) rather than telling they genuinely deserve to be described as affirmative, and yes, empowering. How often can you say that without irony about women who make a living from taking their tops off?
This is a really warm, laugh out loud comedy which, despite its subject matter, you could watch with your parents without any embarrassment. It might be something of a novelty, but novelty value is still value, and in this case it’s backed up by solid comic ability and fantastically warm and witty performers. I’m giving it four stars, but only because I can’t give it four and a half.