Una Aya Osato in exHOTic other
BOTTOM LINE: Una Aya Osato's knack for comedy and talent as a burlesque dancer helps make this solo show a hilarious and engaging one.
Those under the impression that the sole purpose of burlesque is titillation ought to see Una Aya Osato's one woman show, exHOTic other, in which she utilizes the burlesque form to make political and social commentary and express her emotions regarding a lost love. Yes, those with an appreciation for the female form will find plenty to be titillated by through Osato's voluptuous body and sexy dance moves. However, those put off by burlesque and by on-stage nudity in general might still find lots to like in Osato's story.
During the course of the show Osato performs different burlesque numbers culled from her years spent as a performer with Brown Girls Burlesque. Osato explains the story and message behind each dance and in between her numbers shares a mish mash of life stories which connect back to her life as a dancer. Osato does the costume and prop changes herself on stage (with the occasional assistance of her sister) and endearingly makes fun of her flubs. Osato plays off her imperfections from the get go, with an opening number that displays her knack for physical comedy. She sexily removes her clothing only to show embarrassment and surprise at an unshaved armpit and tufts of (fake) pubic hair bursting from her panties and she (intentionally) stumbles in her heels offstage.
Osato's show is most compelling when she plumbs her own life experience for material, detailing the conflict she feels about being half Jewish and half Japanese (she jokingly calls herself a JAP-Jap.) She connects this experience to her complicated feelings towards the Jewish side of her family and her dissatisfaction towards some of Israel's policies, a political issue she explores in her dances. Her show is most endearing when she details the pain she suffers due to a break-up and then pokes fun at her sadness through a dance number set to Beyonce's "Why Don't You Love Me".
exHOTic other is thoroughly engaging and charming due to Osato's own willingness to admit her imperfections and display her vulnerability (she puts herself naked onstage in more ways than one). However, her play could be stronger if she gave more focus to her personal tales. Osato briefly discusses a problem with panic attacks, and I wanted to hear how someone with an anxious disposition is able to perform half naked in front of strangers. Her tale of romantic woe was among her most engaging; focusing more on this would make the work more powerful. With a bit of fine tuning Osato's show is surely worthy of a life beynond that of The Frigid Festival. I hope to see Osato onstage again soon, be she clothed or unclothed.
(exHotic other plays at The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through March 3rd. The remaining performances are Tuesday February 26th at 10:15PM, Thursday February 28th at 8:40PM, and Sunday March 3rd at 6:50PM. Tickets are $15 and are available by visiting smarttix.com or by calling 212.868.4444. For more festival informtion, visit frigidnewyork.info.)