Monday, 29 June 2009

The Burlesque Hour Legends , June 25, 2009 ****

The Burlesque Hour Legends 
by Finucane and Smith
At  fortyfivedownstairs, June 29 to August 2, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

BEWARE! The Burlesque Hour will knock your socks off - and probably a lot of other clothing too. The five extraordinary women in this gob-smacking cabaret spend much of the show in varying degrees of undress ranging from kimonos to underwear and, well, nothing at all.

But burlesque is not only about feather dances and sassy strip teases. The cast teases us with their idiosyncratic and modern, almost satirical version of burlesque that blurs the lines between cabaret, vaudeville, sex shows, performance art, physical theatre and a rock concert.

Creators of this and previous Burlesque Hours, Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith, say that they want to “cherish and challenge their audiences”, and they do exactly that. The crowd is excited, cheering and whooping, grinning ear to ear and gaping with astonishment and sometimes shock at the visual, physical and verbal content of the acts.

Finucane has a penchant for drenching herself and the crowd with fluids, to the degree that the front row is given plastic ponchos to protect them from spraying milk. Her final act, Queen of Hearts, is a marvellous new take on the burlesque artiste who wears nothing but balloons. 

Maude Davey gives a riveting, brazen and challenging rave about the female body, while displaying her own lithe frame. She later slouches on wearing an extravagantly feathered headdress and sings You Don’t Make Me Feel Like I’m A Woman Anymore while dancing like a 70s skinhead.

Yumi Umiumare brings the precision of her Japanese Butoh dance background to Mouth Piece, a compelling
Physical performance that is as shocking as it is beautiful and her martial arts strip is inspired.

There is a hilarious drunken trapeze act by Jess Love that makes swinging trapeze interesting again and Harriet Ritchie and Holly Durant’s sexy big-bosomed dancers are a riot. The first fortnight features special guest, Ursula Martinez, who prattles rapidly in Spanish, plays Spanish guitar, sets her bikini on fire and does magic involving a hankie disappearing into unexpected orifices. Upcoming special guests will be Paul Capsis and Toni Lamond.

The Burlesque Hour leaves you gaping and cheerful. If you are sensitive about language or uncomfortable with nudity, this may not be your show. But it is confrontational, impudent and disrespectful for all the right reasons.

By Kate Herbert

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