WARNING: This post contains strobe lighting, smoke effects and nudity.
Melbourne’s 45 Downstairs is a true institution: old, decrepit, yet wonderful in its conception and the range of creativity it presents to its eclectic audiences. Like a little chamber music? They present it. Alternative theatre? Yes. Cabaret? Of course.
It was burlesque which brought your correspondent to Flinders Lane, Melbourne yesterday, celebrating the arrival in town of Mrs Oz. What better way to wind down from a serious bout of contemporary chamber music than a couple of hours with the incredible Moira Finucane. Never heard of her? Come on, of course you have. Or if really and truly not, then check her eponymous website.
This was the fourth time to a Finucane and Smith production, three presented at 45 Downstairs and one at the Famous Spiegeltent. The show, Glory Box, is the usual mix of edgy, exotic, sexy burlesque with an often cynical seductiveness, particularly in those acts in which Finucane herself appears. Bikini clad, she switches on a desk fan and reclines on a towel, getting colder and colder, until she is shivering uncontrollably. Look for the hidden meaning. Her ‘Jugs’ routine raises a simultaneous finger at the feminine and feminist, while spraying nearby audience with milk. But it is the cameos by others, many of them, that make this show. Ursula Martinez, performing the old music hall magician’s red hanky trick, while slowly stripping, is a gem. The brilliance of her performance is to eschew the tawdry and most of the crudeness of the regular stripper. She plays it deftly in a way that almost makes the audience forget she ends up naked, simply by force of personality and dextrous skill. Jess Love sneers at the circus hoop performer, making fun of the “look, this is a difficult trick and I am going to muck it up twice to convince you how hard it is” approach of many less skilled artists. The dance numbers, hair flying, are original in conception, and Sarah Ward, with Madame Pompadour hairdo, warms the heart with her singing, and delivers a beaut rendition of ‘ The Cat Has Nine Lives’.
All in all a great two hours entertainment. Grab a friend and go. You’ll not be disappointed. Unless, of course you can’t get in.