Despite a very nervy performance on opening night, William's tale of a somewhat clutzy naif-stripper who nevertheless rises to become top-earner at a King Street strip club called the Lips Lounge had the audience mesmerised.
The secret to Mercedes's success, and Williams' it seems, is precisely her awkwardness, an awkwardness that reveals a humanity more fragile and intimate and desirable than anything hidden beneath the lacy garters and skimpy g-strings.
The production values are surprisingly effective given the size of the room. Mercedes uses the cramped space to accentuate the "awkwardness" but still manages to come off as spontaneous and flamboyant, generating a very warm cabaret atmosphere. There's also a very witty voiceover satirizing the hype-man patter at strip joints, and Williams' brief dance interludes give great colour to the comedy.
The routine however does drift too far from affable bathos into pity-me pathos, especially toward the end. Too much woe-to-be-a-stripper-type drama that could perhaps be refocused, either to clarify the tragic element in this fate of an exhibitionist who got what she wanted but not what she needed, or to bring out more of the comedy. Still, even as she occassionally dives too steeply into impassioned plaints, there is always a sharp little piece of mimicry at the end to pull us up.