Pole (3 stars)

This article is from 2015


Credit: Millie Robson

The clothed truth about erotic dancing

In the past few years, there have been many performances that explore the world of the erotic dancer: autobiographical, scripted or, in the case of The Illicit Thrill, a recreation of the club atmosphere that implicates the audience. Yet by using a verbatim process, Pole avoids the predictable excesses of some productions, presenting a more honest and varied appreciation of the pole's complexities.

Using the titular pole as a prop and a set, the three performers avoid the sexual allure of the dancer, challenge their theoretical sexual availability with tales from real life, that reveal pole dancing is as much about fitness as sex.

With characters drawn from outside the club scene – a teacher, a fitness fanatic, alongside an activist and a stripper – the emphasis is on pole dancing as a socially acceptable activity: the dance interludes are less sexy than spectacular with acrobatic skill replacing titillation. While the script does not flinch from the associations with striptease, the measured pace makes the action a call for acceptance.

The mixture of dance routines and speeches to the audience lend Pole the atmosphere of an illustrated documentary. Questions are posed, the pace is gentle and there is less provocation – either political or sexual – and more cool summary of the positives of keep fit and confidence boosting activity with a brief look into the more unsavoury aspects.

Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug (not 17), midnight, £9–£10 (£8–£9).


  • 3 stars

Bent Theatre Company Three poles, three performers and a whole lot of juice. This verbatim piece challenges the preconceptions of femininity through pole dancing, physical theatre and words. Retelling the real life accounts of various women for whom pole dancing is a means of expression, fitness or forced entertainment.