The Burlesque Hour Loves Melbourne was reviewed by Louise Parsons for Theatre People, please see it in it’s full contect here.
After being seen by more than 50,000 people in over 8 countries The Burlesque Hour returns to Melbourne the city in which it premiered back in 2005.
bur•lesque(noun) -An artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity.
Arising from a fifteen year partnership performance artist and writer Moira Finucane and theatre creator and director Jackie Smith are internationally renowned for their arresting mix of provocation and entertainment in performance works that both cherish and challenge their audiences. They create intimate theatrical spectacles that mimic old style entertainment genres and turn them into unforgettable visions of liberation, humanity, power and desire.
Over the past few years I have become rather interested in the act of burlesque and have seen many shows within the Melbourne circuit. I have a certain respect for the women who perform in these shows, completely naked and exposed, yet they have some of the most confident stage personas I have experienced. This is the second time I have seen The Burlesque Hour and it definitely takes the cake for the weirdest yet most wonderful of them all. It is not your ordinary burlesque performance. It is a circus side show mixed with a cabaret show and a striptease. It takes the aspects of burlesque to their extremes. It’s sexy, it’s disturbing, it’s stunning.
Moira Finucane is one innovative and creative woman. She is also the wackiest performer of all. I have never seen anyone that can make eating a meat pie or popping balloons as captivating as Moira can. She is out there and I applaud her for that. Starting the show dressed as a very convincing man shows the audience just how much of a chameleon she is. As there is very little dialogue in a burlesque performance one must use their body to express a feeling, an emotion. Moira uses the tension in her body and her over the top facial expressions to do just that. Her audiences in France call her ‘exquisitely sumptuously demented’ and they are right.
Elegant as always Maude Davey gave a great performance. Within the younger generation she would be better known for her role in the TV show Summer Heights High playing Gumnut college teacher Jan Palmer. Her character on that show is a world away from the role she plays in The Burlesque Hour. Maude had great comic timing and oozed confidence. She clearly understands the word entertainment, getting the audience involved in the closing number of the show. And I can safely say I will never look at strawberries the same way again…
One of the smaller acts of the show was the Ethiopian Queen of Circus Sosina Wogayehu. A sassy little whip cracking, ball handling performer who had great composure throughout her acts even when things didn’t go to plan. The other act was the dancing duo from Paris Holly Durant and Harriet Ritchie. Their dance routines were mesmerizing and they used what little space they had very effectively. Durant and Ritchie are definitely a duo to keep an eye. Both are very talented ladies.
The special guest on Saturday night was one of Australia’s most well known entertainers Rhonda Burchmore. I must say I was a little star struck, and I obviously wasn’t the only one as she held the audience in the palm of her hand. Shimmering from head to toe in beautiful gowns, she told stories of her time performing in Sugar Babies opposite Mickey Rooney on London’s West End in 1988. Rhonda also let us into her personal life, telling the audience about her daughter Lexie and the relationship they share. She sang a beautiful version of ‘In my daughter’s eyes’. And those legs are longer than ever!
The Burlesque Hour is a breath of fresh air to audiences; it’s like nothing else and is definitely worth a look. Even if burlesque isn’t your thing, go along, you just may learn something and if you can, take a seat in the front row, you may just get wet! A performance that is simply unforgettable.