Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Feast of Argentina Gina Catalina by Moira Finucane ***

La Mama, until March 14 to 29, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Moira Finucane never fails to amuse and amaze audiences. Her wild, contemporary burlesque performances are notorious and The Feast of Argentina Gina Catalina is no exception. Her creation, the vivacious and heavily accented Argentina Gina Catalina, is the central character and narrator in this intimate theatrical spectacle that incorporates storytelling with food.

Finucane tantalises us with her original brand of magical realism, sensual and passionate characterisation, religious references, extravagant costumes and simply delicious platters of food (by KT Prescott) delivered with a flourish by waiters between stories.

Her performance, directed by Jackie Smith, is almost as edible as the food.  Her style is histrionic, riddled with broad gestures, an hilarious Spanish accent and oozing sensuality. The earthy sensuality is underscored by music including La Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen, a tarantella, a mazurka and Bolero.

The first colourful story, The First Temptation: Heat, is accompanied by glasses of Sangria. The ebullient Argentina, dressed like a sexy, Spanish peasant, tells about her ardent pursuit of an operatic diva who she seduces by dropping from a chandelier over the stage during an opera.

Following Heat is The Second Temptation: Meat, and we are indeed tempted by plates of cured meats, olives and breads. Argentina, now writhing and pouting in only a silky black slip, gnaws ravenously on slivers of prosciutto.

Wearing a flamboyant, red, flamenco gown, she spins her tale of Argentina’s oceanic encounter with The Pirates. In Miracle of the Markets she meets a toothless, old woman and is transformed into a bird by a little cake made of “fire and the love of the Virgin”. Of course we, too, eat chocolate cake.

In Ice, Argentina, dressed in a glorious, white bustier and long-trained skirt, is abandoned to the icy landscape by her trapeze artist mother and then raised by a she-wolf. And yes, ice cream follows, drizzled with raspberry coulis. Mmm.

Finucane’s gnashing teeth, swirling skirts and piercing gaze combined with the tasty morsels, make this a feast for all the senses.

By Kate Herbert

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