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Still Got It...? | Aviva Studios

Social and political commentary is very much at the heart of this variety show starring David Hoyle, as well as a generous dash of queer culture, and whilst the unashamedly abstract selection of performances on display didn’t always provide a clear vision of the message they were attempting to communicate, there’s no ignoring the fact that there was talent in spades on that stage. The show is preceded by a video short, displaying Blackpool and its most well known landmarks in a homage to Hoyle’s hometown, after which we are treated to a wonderfully dynamic and upbeat dance routine performed by the Glitterbomb dancers, who themselves make multiple appearances throughout the night, including during a jarring, unnerving routine choreographed by Joseph Mercia, sandwiched between two powerful poetry-driven appearances by David’s friend “Pam”.

David himself is an ever charismatic presence, he endears himself to the audience immediately, building a wonderful rapport through his direct interactions with them. Including some hilarious patter, a few musical numbers, and even a quiz, the audience are always with him through the distinct variety of chaos. It should also be highlighted how strong the musicians on display were, especially the string quartet who graced the stage with authority during act two, providing a full bodied accompaniment for a couple of wonderful solo numbers.

An abstract take on burlesque, however, was the main item that had me a little unsure as to its overall message or purpose, as we were treated/subjected (depending on your perspective) to a plus sized woman beginning to perform what initially presented as a traditional burlesque performance, but then proceeded to hop into a paddling pool and pour a variety of food and drink items onto her near-nude person. The preceding prologue gave us some degree of preparation, but not enough to convince me of any sort of clarity of context.

In spite of the unevenness of narrative identity on display, there was a sense of build, that we were heading towards a more definitive climax, which we certainly achieved at the end of the second act. Not only did Vader Lady give us a raw, heartfelt lament to her HIV positive status, and a beautifully sincere subsequent dialogue with David about her own struggle and recent upturn of fortunes, but the overall finale of the show, comprising the string quartet, a drummer, and entire company rousing the audience in a huge group performance of “Proud Mary”, damn near took the roof off the Aviva studios. This was a variety show like none other, and we were certainly presented a great deal of just that; it didn’t necessarily deliver universally what it perhaps intended, however there’s no denying the immense amount of heart on display in this David Hoyle passion project.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Lee Baxter


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