Left & Cover - Moira Finucane. Photos - Paull Dunn
It’s a full house that squeezes into La Mama for Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith’s new production The Feast of Argentina Gina Catalina. The hot and steamy conditions of this particular Saturday afternoon gel perfectly with the atmosphere of the piece. The venue is filled with small round tables decked with red chequered cloths and adorned with candles, bread and olive oil. Glasses are filled with sangria and the crowd chomps on green olives as we wait excitedly for our host, the formidable Ms Finucane. She descends the stairs, sweeping forcefully into the room like a hot north wind.
Let the feast begin!
The team behind the highly successful work The Burlesque Hour bring us another energetic and sensual cabaret piece in The Feast of Argentina Gina Catalina. Smith and Finucane produce works that transport the audience through attention to detail in the setting and style of presentation. An excellent lighting design by Kerry Ireland transforms the small La Mama space and creates the feeling of a crowded yet cosy South American cantina.
The Feast focuses on the fantastical character of Argentina Gina Catalina, a ferocious woman raised respectively by wolves, killer whales and wild bears. Finucane’s statuesque presence evokes a character in full control of her sexuality and her hyper-real portrayal encompasses the magic realism of the stories that she relates. With almost manic enthusiasm and melodrama Argentina Gina Catalina tells wild tales of taking over pirate ships, clinging to chandeliers in concert halls and drug running with murderers and thieves.
Each section culminates in a dramatic exit and the entrance of a variety of tasty morsels. Trays of cured meat and olives are passed around. White wine is sloshed into glasses. Mussels are slurped and delicious cakes are munched. The different foods link cleverly in with the tales Argentina Gina Catalina tells us. She describes the food viscerally and with a kind sexuality that reminds of the sensual arousal the consumption food can provoke, portrayed in such films as 9 ½ Weeks or the Spanish book and film Like Water for Chocolate.
While the language used in the stories is dripping with sumptuous text Finucane’s over-the-top delivery became a little grating over time. Perhaps through more exploration of the character and further seasons of the work (which has only been presented once before at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival) more light and shade will emerge and perhaps let the audience a little closer to the amazing woman that is Argentina Gina Catalina.
Finucane & Smith present
THE FEAST OF ARGENTINA GINA CATALINA
Venue: La Mama, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton
Dates: 14 – 29 March, 2009
Times: Saturdays and Sundays at 4.00pm
Tickets: $35 / $25 Duration: 70 minutes approx.
Bookings: 9347 6142 | www.lamama.com.au