GLORY BOX!
Finucane & Smith @ Garden of Unearthly Delights – Paradiso Spiegeltent
10:30pm, Thu 6 Mar 2014
“Seductive Spectacle, Live” says the subtitle of this show, but before even entering the Paradiso I’ve got a pretty good idea what Glory Box! is going to be about: burlesque acts and physical comedy, half performed by Moira Finucane, half by her colleagues. It’ll be well-produced, well-polished, and – thanks to the positive word-of-mouth evident around the Fringe – well attended.
But upon entering the venue, I discovered that my preconceived notions may be wrong: the crowd was surprisingly light for this performance, and I easily found a front-row seat, sharing a table with an older couple (who, unfortunately, included a piercing whistler who was perhaps a little to keen to show off her own talents). Expectations were satisfied, however, when Finucane took to the stage; all her staple performances (the macho man strip, the Dairy Queen, the red sauce dribbles) were presented throughout the night… as was the brilliantly literal (and tortured) interpretation of Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Some high-energy dance twins tried to rock the stage: sure, it looked good from the outset, but I’ve been watching K-Pop for eighteen months now… and, by comparison, their moves need some work. Also lacklustre was the trapeze act, which was notable only for the fact that the performer was wearing tight bands around her limbs and torso that made her look like a svelte Michelen Man.
In fact, the only act that struck me as creatively new was a piece where the performer worked with fabric “wings” that were routed through the top of the stage; it’s an impressive visual effect, but whilst it didn’t outstay its welcome, that injection of something different was sadly too brief. Acts were broken up with an occasional disco-inspired singalong (though the “pussy wussy pussy” song came across as low-bar and infantile), and there was even a get-another-drink-in interval.
Whilst my front-row seat afforded me a great view of the action (and it was the first time I’d been so close to the action that I needed the splash guard for Finucane’s milk spray routine), it wasn’t really of any benefit to me – I’d seen most of the acts before, and the new pieces didn’t benefit from the proximity. What I did see, though, was that the audience was mostly men – maybe eighty percent, I reckon – and there were an alarming number of men hopping on Facebook in the middle of the show. There could be a vibrant hoop act or naked woman dousing herself in liquid on stage, but the familiar blue glow of Facebook would be front-lighting their faces. To which I can just shake my head and say: what the fuck?
Look – Glory Box! was an undoubtedly entertaining show… but due to the familiarity of its content, it has little to differentiate it from other ensemble burlesque acts. As a result, I left the Garden this evening feeling like I’d been appropriately entertained… but a little part of me felt as if I’d wasted the timeslot. It’ll take a bit more than good word-of-mouth to convince me that I need to see another such show, I think.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 6, 2014