What The Press Say
The great 2000s burlesque revival succeeded in cementing the scene, both at the Fringe and in the popular imagination. A few years later, most of the novelty acts have faded away, while the ones backed up by actual talent have endured. As her latest return to Edinburgh demonstrates, Ivy Paige is definitely among the latter.
For those unfamiliar with Lucinda Ryan's corset-clad alter-ego, Ivy Paige is not a modernising update or a postmodern reimagining, but pure, classic burlesque, tinged with a little self-parody. The running joke throughout is that, for all Paige's sparkling pretentions of glamour and class, she cannot hide a streak of vulgarity a mile long – not that she particularly wants to. The end result is the mind of Mae West in the body of Bettie Page, with the appetites of Anna Nicole Smith thrown in.
While the banter is as unapologetically unsubtle as ever—and sometimes depends on how good-natured the audience is feeling—the real draw is, as always, Paige's voice, so huge and powerful it seems impossible that it could emerge from such a tiny form. Whether working her way through cabaret classics, pop covers or original material composed by Dexy's Midnight Runners' Pete Saunders (who remains her stalwart accompanist on the piano), Paige reminds us that, behind the sequins and double-entendres, she is a serious musical talent with considerable range. While those who have seen her previous Fringe offerings may find some parts familiar, the shameless Ms Paige's best moments bear repeating.
Some things are inescapable. Alcatraz was inescapable (apparently). So too are the boundaries of time and space. The sumptuous glories of Ivy Paige are likewise inescapable. In a world overpopulated with lacklustre burlesque shows and OK-I-guess cabaret acts, Ivy stands out as the real deal. “Not too naughty but ever so nice” is the description of her by one former archbishop (supposedly on a family break, pre-book festival, but allegedly in town early to wait upon the buxom Miss Paige).
Ivy looks marvellous as she takes to the stage at Underbelly. Long red hair. Legs that go all the way to the ground and a waist that Warwick Davis can (reputedly) get his arms round 3 times over. Is she lovely? Does she look like a million renminbi fresh from the Chinese laundry? Sure, but it’s her two most prominent assets I’ve come to see.
Firstly, Paige sounds like Christopher Isherwood wrote. She has a vocal range that rainbows from husky allure to power ballad belter. Her songs (a mix of auld and new) perfectly showcase her faculties. Secondly, Paige is funny, and I mean funny haha. She can do innuendo without reaching the end of the pier, bawdy without taking the Viz, and self-deprecating without losing the plot.
Paige has had an adventurous life. She’s been there, done him and has the t-shirt to prove it (not that she’d be seen dead in such a garment). Like everything else, it’s all on show. But does it appeal to that hard to reach segment of the crowd? I’m a bloke. I’ve been pre-programmed, since before our ancestors crawled out of the primordial ocean, to be fascinated by Ivy Paige. This night I’m in company with a bevy of my own fabulous frauleins, the Current Mrs Dan included.
Women love Ivy because they see themselves in her (and not the version they see in the mirror which requires a further 40 minutes to get ready with the taxi downstairs and his meter running). I’ve been hearing about empowerment since Mum explained the fishes and the bicycles, Ivy is empowerment personified, an Egyptian goddess without the jackal head.
The new venue is ideal for her. Her lighting, sound and tech are spot on. The light is liquid. It’s due either to the steam rising from the expectant masses yearning for their first glimpse of Ivy, or it's dry ice. Either way the effect is to cocoon the sultry songstress and the man in her life (Pete Saunders of Dexy's Midnight Runners fame) in the most luxurious bath since Prince Bertie last stepped out the tub at Le Chabanais.
If every Edfringe show was good as Ivy Paige’s Kiss and Sell, August would never end. It’s the most exciting blend since Earl Grey decided the flavour of bergamot was his cup of tea.
Reviewed by Dan Lentell 9th August 2014
by Kyung Oh on 10th August 2014
There is something magnetic about Ivy Paige, with her long lashes, coy glances downwards, the pout of her deep scarlet lips, and her flaming hair brushed to one side. Her tiara necklace and turquoise sequin corset go well together with the green, then purple, then dim yellow lights that are put on with smoke for her songs. She tastefully plays coquettish, with just the right amount of tease, without being giggly or frivolous. She certainly has the ability to carry an air of hypnotic allure.
Her songs follow a familiar cabaret narrative of a woman hungry for success, who does whatever it takes to amass riches. At times she comes across as a bit too young to pull off the look of the once cynical but now on-top-of-the-world madame look. But on the other hand, perhaps that isn’t quite the look she is going for either. Indeed, one of the more successful elements of her show is how she offsets her playful teasings of the audience for not being as fabulous as she is, with light comments of self-deprecation. (For example she refers to the lack of glamour in Fringe performers having to overpay for low-key venues.)
Something about her act feels like she could exude a more commanding level of confidence, because she certainly has the ability to carry an air of hypnotic allure. Her songs are fun and catchy, but her voice doesn’t quite carry the powerful maturity to fill the room. Perhaps more could be developed from her songs, to create a more fleshed-out character for herself. More could come of her opening song about her pact with the devil, for example, if she gave more space in her act for spoken storytelling.
The performance that I went to see was slightly marred by a bland audience, and those sitting in the front rows - though they were not called on to participate heavily - were too reserved for a burlesque cabaret act. However, it is a thoroughly engaging, fun show, which would be even better with a more vigorous audience. She certainly has a great deal of potential to be an extremely captivating cabaret performer.
THE audience are on their feet in the first number of Ivy Paige's latest romp - because they're ordered to stand and La Paige is not the sort of burlesque artist to brook disobedience.
A cross between Miss Whiplash and one of Martina Cole's East London gangland anti-heroines, Paige portrays herself as ruthless.
She's done a deal with the devil and slept her way to the top, and with keyboard accompaniment from Dexy's Midnight Runner Pete Saunders, she's ready to give details in a show that's raucous and roarin' and spares nobody's feelings as Paige chooses her targets for fork-tongued attack and frank ridicule.
And yet, amid the send-ups, put-downs, lurid tales and promises to bare her bottom - which she teasingly does - there's a rather, well, nice version of Madonna's Material Girl, which is taken at torch ballad pace.
The show runs out of steam - and steaminess - a bit towards the end when Paige's big tart-with-a-heart song becomes a vocal/keyboard battle - which the keyboard wins - and she resorts to inviting three blokes from the audience onstage to form one of these "what are we doing here?'" chorus lines that fill in a few minutes.
Overall, though, Kiss and Sell is good, anything but clean, late-night fun.
Comedy Reviewer -★★★★
The venue was a perfect size, large enough for many to attend but still had a lovely intimate feeling that is required for such a sensual show.
The lights dimmed as thick smoke filled the air; the atmosphere was set as Ivy Paige was welcomed to the stage. Full of self-confidence, Ivy began to banter with the crowd and not just the front row either; nobody was safe as she glanced around the room. A welcome song soon had everyone at ease and the atmosphere changed as the audience began to relax. I'd actually say it had changed so much that people were now willing for Ivy's full attention. She was soon wooing us with her amusing tales and more fantastic songs. The wide-eyed crowd looked mesmerised. It’s no exaggeration when I say "like a child on Christmas day", not just myself, I hasten to add. Ivy is even more than a pretty face, she has one powerful voice and certainly doesn’t hold back when powering through her saucy numbers. She is in complete control of her audience from start to finish. Ivy may only be a character, but from watching this performance it is hard to tell. She's not just about image, she has also got an affinity for money; "less kiss and tell, more kiss and sell". You get the feeling that nobody could tame this wild child, though many would like to try... I'm sure. If Dita Von Teese drinks champagne, then Ivy Paige drinks Vodka Red Bull. Great performances from Paige and wonderful work from the excellent Pete Saunders on Piano. A nice little show that I refuse to review as just comedy, this is Cabaret and as that it deserves Comedy Reviewer- ★★★★