The Burlesque Hour
Finucane & Smith @ The Famous Spiegeltent
8:30pm, Tues 28 Feb 2006
Opening with a bit of cross-dressing that left my neighbour completely befuddled, The Burlesque Hour pumped its way through 90 minutes of mayhem (you get your money’s worth).
First thing to note: it’s wonderful seeing shows like this by yourself; the “single seat?” query netted me a second row seat, even though I had been at least 100 metres deep in the queue. Hurrah!
Second thing to note: there’s nudity. Oh, such glorious bodies. Azaria Universe’s pearl-embraced mime to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” will live in the minds of all present that night.
Third: there’s loud, pumping music. Sometimes. Other times, softer background tunage. Still others, vagina-inspired monologues.
Now, these were all things that I was expecting from this show; clearly, the four elderly people in front of me were expecting things to be a bit more sedate, a bit more twee; after Yumi Umiumare’s Japanese high-energy schoolgirl, thrashing and headbanging about the stage to 180 beats per minute (before proceeding to throw seventeen pairs of knickers into the audience), they up and left. They had front row seats, for Christ’s sake! It’s a burlesque show! Ahem.
Yumi also performed an incredibly intense brooding piece – The Kiss Of The Serpent Warrior – dancing in and around her kimono before revealing her kanji-covered body. Sounds like a simple strip-tease when I write it, but it was intense – her focus was absolute, every movement meaningful.
There was a nice interlude where a bored looking Ursula Martinez sat onstage with that touch-flash-powder stuff covering her groin and nipples (looking all the while like tassles & a g-string). With a lit cigarette, she ignited the tassles, revealing her nipply pinkness; the audience giggled as they realised that her “g-string” was next. My neighbour leaned over and whispered in my ear:
“That’s one way to get a Brazilian.”
*foom* went the “g-string”, a bright flash and small puff of smoke revealing Ursula’s pubic regions.
“Apparently not,” I observed.
Azaria Universe also did a moody rope-dance to PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love”; besides her initial cross-dressed strip, burlesque guru Moira Finucane added her Ice Queen monologue and the tragically trembling Victoriana. Throw in The Town Bikes doing a cutesy frilly-knicker flashing jig, and what you have is a show that’s varied, fresh, and a gamut of emotions.
If this is the next populist Fringe trend (and La Clique are certainly one of the hottest tickets at the moment), we’re in for an eye-opening ride.