Boys in the Buff
Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh.
Book and Lyrics: Chris Burgess
Music: Chris Burgess, Cathy Shostak, Sarah Travis, BB Thorn
Director and Choreographer: Stewart Nicholls
Producer: Stars + Angels
Faith Brown, Danie Robinson, Mark Jackson, Robert Breslin, Nathan Labbock-Smith, Michael Roulston
By Pete Shaw
Bare naked musical comedy.
In a story that’s somewhere between Mrs Henderson Presents and The Full Monty, Boys In The Buff tells the story of Diane Diamante (Faith Brown), the owner of a failing seaside theatre and her plans to rescue its fortunes by staging an all-male nude review. The action spans the several days of rehearsals for the show, right up to the big reveal-all finale.
The four boys that Diamante hires for the job are a diverse bunch. The good-looking narcissistic one; the nerdy shy one; a stocky football fan, and the, er, well let’s just say “he has a nice personality…” Along the way there are musical numbers that let us explore male insecurities like “Size Doesn’t Matter“, “My Foreskin and Me“, and “Taboo Tattoos“. It’s an interesting mixture of light camp froth, titillation and real human anxiety, and at times it can get quite deep behind the jazz hands and high kicks.
Faith Brown is occasionally unsure in her role as Diamante, but that doesn’t seem to matter one jot. She also slips in between Brown the actress and Brown the comedienne impressionist at various points in the show – much to the delight of the audience.
And at the end of this burlesque, yes, you do get to see everything. Rather a lot of it. Star jumps and all.
By Gerald Berkowitz
With conscious echoes of A Chorus Line, The Full Monty and old Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney movies, this fast-moving show is a delightful capsule musical comedy that does indeed end with the guys getting their kit off, but doesn’t rely on that for its entertainment value, offering a lot of fun along the way.
The fictional premise has Faith Brown playing diva-impresario Diana Diamante, who is driven to rescue her down-at-heels seaside theatre by recruiting a chorus line of lads to back her in the buff, all under the jaundiced eye and amused commentary of her cynical pianist. The show takes us through the rehearsal period which, as in A Chorus Line, involves a degree of emotional self-exposure to prepare for the stripping. Enjoyable and energetic songs and dances include one reflecting one guy’s fantasy of streaking at a football match and one tracing nudism back to Adam and Eve, while a slightly darker moment evokes memories of being teased as kids for minor physical flaws.
The boys try in one song to reassure themselves that Size Doesn’t Matter, and their boss encourages them in another to Let It All Hang Out, leading to songs and dances uninhibitedly celebrating the foreskin and male nipples.
Along the way, veteran comic and impressionist Brown has fun playing the leader not quite sure of what she has let loose and sometimes not sure where to look, who seems unable to avoid embarrassing double entendres every time she opens her mouth. Brown also takes the opportunity from time to time, and in one big musical number, to run through her repertoire of voices and characterisations, from Mae West and Margaret Thatcher to Tina Turner and Posh Spice.
The final Full Monty number is appropriately the best of all, as the guys go from teasing strip to wild abandon, not only displaying their wares but juggling, tap dancing and/or skipping rope as they do.
This unabashed campfest zips along superficially like an end of the pier version of Mrs Henderson Presents with Faith Brown starring as theatre impresario Diana Diamonte, who decides that what her struggling establishment needs is the Full Monty.
Quick as you like, she has recruited four lads of contrasting shapes and sizes (ooh, matron) to do
most of the singing and hoofing while she sashays about in her magnificently cantilevered fuchsia
frock breaking into the occasional superfluous impersonation – because what else is she going to
The climactic strip, when it arrives, is every bit as blatant and silly as the rest of the show which
seems to have been unapologetically manufactured for the hen party and their gay best friends