Left - Moira Finucane, Maude Davey, Azaria Universe and Yumi Umiumare. Photo - Jodie Hutchinson. Cover - Ursula Martinez. Photo Prudence Upton
It seems Melbourne can’t get enough of The Burlesque Hour. It keeps returning and the audiences keep coming. In between local appearances, it has toured extensively and thrilled crowds from Croatia to Hong Kong. The brainchild of performance artist/writer Moira Finucane and theatre director Jackie Smith, it’s a collection of delectable and naughty acts that keeps surprising with a mix of old favourites and titillating new additions. While there’s naked skin and tassels aplenty, the acts are more than mere stripping spectacle. In the true spirit of burlesque, they have irony, edge, or at the very least, surprise and humour.
This time round, the core cast (Finucane, Maude Davey, Azaria Universe and Yumi Umiumare) are joined by special guests who bring a unique spin to the show. Ursula Martinez, Jess Love and Kitten K.O. (Harriet Ritchie and Holly Durant) are all in the first week cast and none disappoint. Martinez is an all-rounder with her naughty magic, comedic song and pyrotechnics. Love provides the acrobatic offering with a feisty trapeze number while Kitten K.O.‘s funky contemporary/clubby dance routines have just the right amount of bling and zing.
Each time around The Burlesque Hour is different, but it’s nice to see well-made familiar acts that hold up to multiple viewings. Dairy Queen and Expresso – which so viscerally present Finucane’s fascination with the orgasmic powers of foods, are still showering audiences in liquids and Umiumare’s dark and disturbing Mouth Piece, a solo in which a business woman calmly chokes herself with her own fist, sustains dramatic bite.
Other highlights are Kitten K.O.’s bungi–jumping cat burglars duet which uses a simple prop to create great aerial effect and Martinez’s disappearing handkerchief striptease that leaves you guessing just where it’s gone – that’s magic. Love’s trapeze number has fantastic choreography, but her drunken, flirtatious character is yet to fully evolve.
While not every single act in this 16 strong collection hits the mark on all fronts, The Burlesque Hour is undoubtedly a fabulous night out. The catwalk set decked out in red lanterns and pink hues (designed by Adrienne Chisholm), the cabaret atmosphere of fortyfivedownstairs and even the post-show undies for sale by the cast create a buzzing salon vibe. Treading the line between deviance, pure fun, and serious commentary, The Burlesque Hour is not for the prudish or the under-18s, but for everyone else – both repeat and first-time viewers – it goes down a treat.
Finucane & Smith and fortyfivedownstairs
The Burlesque Hour LEGENDS!
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 25th June - 2nd August
Times: Thurs – Sun 7pm | Late Shows Fri & Sat 9.30pm
Tickets: $46.40 full/ $36.40 conc
Bookings: (03) 9662 9966
Guest Performance Dates:
Ursula Martinez: 24 June – 5 July
Paul Capsis: 9 July – 19 July
Toni Lamond: 23 July – 2 Aug