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Mack’nifique: WNDRLND

Review by G.W. Mercure

What do you want in a burlesque?

Typically, a burlesque is a variety show with a striptease deeply integrated into the performance or performances. A narrative is often present, but it is an afterthought and not a focus. Mack’nifique: WNDRLND at the Crown & Anchor is a gem of a burlesque that offers a good quality of both of these, and meaningfully.

Mack’nifique: WNDRLND is the creation of Mackenzie, a dynamic director and dancer, but its star is the graceful and perfectly languid newcomer Lilly Rose Valore. Valore is a trans woman activist, gifted dancer, and model. And her deft combination of elegance and eroticism drives the show. She seems to be sexy without effort and present without reservation. She gives all of herself, which is the only way all of oneself can ever be accepted. One should expect to see a great deal more of Valore in Provincetown in the years to come. Besides Mackenzie, she is joined onstage by Spookey and the Duchess of Sandwich, both physically gifted performers and glitteringly sexy.

The narrative, as the title implies, involves Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Mackenzie presents WNDRLND’s co-stars as a young girl’s action figures or dolls, ready to act out her fantasies and dreams, and this particular scenario is Alice in Wonderland.

This Alice, however, performed by Valore, is on a more deliberate journey than Carroll’s heroine. The rabbit hole she disappears into is about identity; the characters she encounters are new sex-forward talismans of body positivity. The resolution of Alice’s narrative is Valore herself, triumphant, joyful, self-owned, and as hot as the Hatter is mad.

A challenge faced by many artists is to construct a narrative that carries a message without either of them being forced. It isn’t easy. Forcing it is. On top of that, there is a mandate to make it meaningful and, above all, entertaining. If it’s possible, it can also be nice to not compromise one’s vision, or at least not too much. Mackenzie has achieved all of this with WNDRLND. She has done it with aplomb and vigor, and she has made it sexy as hell. What more do you want from a burlesque show? What do you want from any show?

Mack’nifique: WNDRLND is performed Thursdays at 8 p.m. through September 21 at the Crown & Anchor, 247 Commerical St., Provincetown. For tickets ($35/$45 VIP) and information call 508.487.1430 or visit onlyatthecrown.com.