See the review in its original context here.
Finucane & Smith’s GLORY BOX is the latest incarnation of The Burlesque Hour, the Australian cabaret that has gone on to redefine – defy even – the genre around the world.
Sexy, twisted, and at times very moving, I find myself requiring multiple adjectives to capture the essence of this show. I could add funny, confronting and slightly un-hinged, and I’d still only describe a portion of what happens when this GLORY BOX is opened.
In an underground salon of red lanterns and intimate tables, co-creator Moira Finucane’s opening act sets the tone as she devours an apple so ferociously that I might still be removing pieces from my hair. For the uninitiated this might be the moment where any expectation of a traditional burlesque experience is also demolished. And from here the delights unfold!
There are nods to standard burlesque fare – Salome and her veils, a hula-hooping extravaganza, a body covered in balloons. But most acts veer off into their own delicious territory at a certain point, revealing intent beyond mere titillation.
Standouts include a besuited Anna Lumb on trapeze, Ursula Martinez’ ‘Ta-Dah!’ moment with a red hanky (I watched so closely and still I can’t see how!) and Maude Davey as a feathers and sparkles showgirl belting out Patti Smith’s ‘Gloria’.
And of course there is Finucane’s now legendary tribute to the Water Wall at Melbourne’s National Gallery that I won’t spoil, other than to advise that those with a front row seat may experience more than just the best view on the night.
International cabaret star Meow Meow (witty and deliciously on point as a demanding diva) gave perhaps the line of the night when corralling audience participants to the stage for her performance. Handing out back-up dancing barbie dolls to each woman, she admonished any hesitation by providing the following tongue in cheek instruction –
“Don’t worry! It’s only theatre. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Thanks to Finucane and her fellow artistes I just might understand how burlesque as an art form can be meaningful. How when it manages to combine insolence with reverence, when it mixes satire with seduction so perfectly – it can in fact be glorious.