Wow! It’s rare that a show elicits a one word exclamation of amazement, but The Burlesque Hour…More! does just that, so once more: Wow! As an art form burlesque is undergoing a major revival, and it seems everybody is keen to dance, shake, and wiggle their way around a stage. The form is reinventing itself from more than just the misconception that it’s “something that strippers do”, into something that celebrates female empowerment and the female form as well as the audiences’ desire for voyeurism. What The Burlesque Hour does so well is that it subverts all of these expectations and takes you into territory that is not only sexy and provocative but sometimes grotesque and verging on the horrific.
The show’s three main performers Moira Finucane, Yumi Umiumare and Azaria Universe, each have their turns at filling the stage with their own particular brand of burlesque and it’s a wonderful feeling not knowing what’s going to happen next. The trio are joined nightly by a special guest who also performs, and on opening night this was Angus Cerini whose gross enthusiasm and strong physicality complimented the others beautifully. Other guests throughout the season will include Maude Davey and the Town Bikes.
Moria Finucane as co-director has crafted a beautiful show, and in her work as performer subverts our expectations of what we find alluring and then uses it against us. Her performances in Soup and Victoriana where she inhabits respectively a messy eater and a repressed Victorian matron are examples of this. Yumi Umiumare also challenges us with her visions of Harajuku girls (crossed with Dutch milkmaids) and her vision of a slightly psychotic Hello Kitty! But by far her most powerful performance is as Hebi Onna – The Kiss of the Serpent Warrior, a piece that leaves the audience breathless. Azaria Universe sits beautifully between these two worlds and give The Burlesque Hour a much needed dose of brevity, allowing the audience to laugh and catch their breath. This is not to say that Azaria’s work is any less provocative, her aerial work in Eve of the Night is spectacular and Pearls has meant that this reviewer will never think of Total Eclipse of the Heart in the same way ever, ever again.
The Burlesque Hour has had many incarnations from its original season at 45 downstairs, to a season at the Spiegeltent, and its current incarnation continues to develop the work, a benefit of the show’s longevity. The lighting by Alexandre Malta and Marko Respondeck is excellent and the sound, though purposely played too loud, forces you to become involved. The production values are excellent, with everything in the room contributing to the atmosphere and ambience of the world that Finucane and Smith have sought to create. It’s these little touches that make this show an experience, from the ridiculously small ticket box that you purchase your tickets from, to the tables laid out in cabaret style that each have little games for you to play and pencils for the colouring competition that The Burlesque Hour is holding!
Everything about this show is fun, and 45 downstairs has never looked so grand. Some caveats though, don’t arrive too late as the ticket box is not equipped to deal with too many people at the one time, and though the show is called The Burlesque Hour it runs for close to two hours, so be wary of this when parking your car. Otherwise go out and enjoy the show, I humbly recommend it, what more can I say except: Wow!
BURLESQUE HOUR MORE!
fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Thurs 21st June – Sun 15th July 2007. Wed - Sun
Wed & Thurs @ 8pm. Fri & Sat 7pm and 9.30pm. Sun @ 7pm
Moira Finucane’s website: