See article in its original context here by Jacqueline Bublitz on Broadway World.
I will admit that I am not a fan of modern burlesque. The renaissance of this art form in recent years, and its subsequent rise in popularity with global audiences has somewhat confounded me. Beautiful and talented though burlesque performers may be, it still seems to me a rather limited expression of the female experience. As women we are so often sold the concept that bodies are an art form in and of themselves, yet we remain the only naked ones in the room. Burlesque as I’ve seen it tends to play into this theme. No, the women don’t technically get naked, but they perform and tease as if this is the ultimate goal – and coy or commanding, they are always playing to the fully clothed.
Enter Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith, the creators and directors of GLORY BOX: PARADISE, who take this art form and turn it on its head. And then set it gloriously, deliriously spinning. For Finucane and Smith, nakedness is not a device or a promise; it is not an offering to an expectant audience. Rather each performer owns their nakedness on stage, a nakedness that is itself presented as an essential fact. Women have bodies. And yes, they can be beautiful to behold. But not just in the constrictive, passive way beauty is so often presented to us. This is not beauty designed soley for the gaze.
Deep? You betcha. I’ve seen an earlier incarnation from the GLORY BOX team, and had some time to consider their art and effect – and I’m still thinking about it now. At the beginning of this performance Finucane, the sinewy master of these ceremonies, quips that three elements are required for art and its audience – passion, liquor and unrealistic expectation. There is no doubt my expectations are high after the revelation that was their 2012 Melbourne show. But it is dry(ish) July for this reviewer, so I’m approaching this new show with said expectation and passion, only.
To my sober(ish) delight, Finucane and her troupe of women don’t disappoint. The same wit and humour is present, as are the impressive tricks with hula hoops (the dynamite Jess Love) and handkerchiefs (um, how does Ursula Martinez do that last part?!). Holly Durant, Lily Paskas and Yumi Umiumare are all terrific, engaging dancers, and there are winks and nods to traditional burlesque through-out (feathers and glitter and tassels all make appearance). But each is a leaping off point to something deeper, something far more interesting. Sometimes the leap is into a darker humour, sometimes it is into the unknown. When Finucane shivers and jolts through “A Sunny Afternoon” the audience is given the unique opportunity to follow the performance through to their own conclusion. Vulnerable, defiant, desperate? The decision remains ours to make.