Theater review: 'Busting Out!' at the Hayworth Theatre
After “The Vagina Monologues” and “Puppetry of the Penis,” it was inevitable that breasts would demand equal time. In “Busting Out!”, a good-natured though shamelessly tacky entertainment from Australia now at the Hayworth Theatre, this part of the female anatomy finally gets its moment in the legit spotlight.
But bosoms, I’m afraid you let your natural enthusiasm get the better of you. Why, oh why, didn’t you hold out for a cleverer show? This act, touted as having been seen by an audience of more than 300,000 in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, is pure amateur hour. (Two hours, actually — two strenuously jokey hours about “jugs,” “rack,” “melons” and a host of other synonyms, many of them unprintable in a family newspaper.)
Created by Emma Powell, who performs often topless with her fellow big-breasted costar Mandi Lodge, “Busting Out!” has a gimmick that’s supposed to excuse the crass comic mediocrity of it all. This is a show that celebrates large women whose flesh has begun to sag. Brassieres are banished, and bumps and veins are flaunted. The idea is that this carnival of dumb skits, puerile puppetry and suburban rap numbers is being performed in the name of liberation. But as any drama critic can tell you, there’s nothing more oppressive than bad theater.
The ladies are lively company, don’t get me wrong. They greet the audience as though they’re hosting a middle-aged bachelorette party. Mandi, in particular, is always looking to get a rise with her sauciness. When her punch lines fail to ignite a wildfire of laughter, she can seem a little chagrined, but then Emma is usually there to intervene with some lame shtick of her own.
A video camera singles out members of the audience when not traversing the alps of Emma’s or Mandi’s cleavage. Drinking probably would make this production, directed by Terence O’Connell as though it were a local pub revue, more fun. But there isn’t enough booze in the world to get me to plunk down hard-earned cash at the show’s merchandise table.
Bring home a “Busting Out!” T-shirt when I’m trying to expel the image of a boob turned into a Big Mac? Play the CD in my car when I’m still recovering from the “Mammaries” parody of “Cats”? Please, I have my own interests to look after. There’s this one-man show about elbows that I’m cooking up, with a riff on funny bones that’s bound to earn me an Ovation Award one day.
— Charles McNulty
"Busting Out!" Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. $46-$60. (323) 960-4442 or www.thehayworth.com . Running time: 2 hours
Photos: Upper: Emma Powell and Mandi Lodge. Lower: Mandi Lodge and Emma Powell. Credit: Ed Krieger