Burlesque Hour LOVES MelbourneMoira Finucane (performer and writer) and Jackie Smith (theatre creator and director) have worked together for fifteen years and have been creating their own distinctive and decidedly idiosyncratic burlesque performances since 2005, garnering acclaim both here and overseas (Europe and Asia), as well as a host of local awards. In Melbourne's mid-winter they have returned for a season at fortyfivedownstairs and invited a variety of guests to join in their fun and games.

If you think of burlesque as being sophisticated, classy and sexy you will discover that your expectations will be challenged by Burlesque Hour LOVES Melbourne. There is plenty of glitz and glamour and sexiness, however it is frequently more confronting than seductive, often with a gothic edge to it.

The cellar space at fortyfivedownstairs seems an ideal setting for this distinctively subversive style of burlesque – if you are pushing to get there on time the stairs seem to go on forever. Then you enter the magical world of cabaret. Tables gather around a stage and catwalk and there is a buzz from the audience even before the performance begins. There's a feeling that many audience members have returned for another taste of the entertainment, or is it Maude Davey's strawberries and cream. You'll lhave to see the show to get this one.

If you have already attended a performance in this season you will not be disappointed to find that the core performances by Moira Finucane and the Burlesque Hour Divas: Sosina Wogayehu; Maude Davey; Holly Durant & Harriet Ritchie, are reprised.

Sosina Wogayehu is a woman who has a distinctive way with balls, hoops and whips. Dressed all in black leather, whips cracking and backed by the Romones Shakin All over, Sosina was the complete dominatrix.

Finucane's Get Wet for Art, performed to the strains of Prince's Purple Rain, is a definite hightlight as is her performance, naked but for a black veil, cigarette and bunch of black balloons, to Drivin' by female punk rock group Babes in Toyland. If you remember the Grim Reaper Ads then this could well be an anti-smoking version – dark, black and gothic. Finucane in her element.

Each week of the season has had its special guests and on Friday night Finucane and the divas were joined by Constantina Bush & The Bushettes and Vika & Linda Bull.

Constantina Bush and The Bushettes have achieved cult status amongst the Indigenous and gay communities over the past two years. Talk about The Attack of the Fifty Foot Black Gin (the title of the winning artwork in trhe Victorian Indigenous Arts Awards held in March 2011). Constantina is big and proud. Full of outback humour and with a good singing voice, delivering Fire by the Pointe Sisters and Ike and Tina Turner's Proud Mary with gusto. Her two female dancers are dwarfed by her presence; all part of the joke.

Vika & Linda Bull are well known as a vocal duo who first came to prominence when asked to sing backing vocals Joe Camillieri's The Black Sorrows and have since gone on to buld a successful idependent career. Their performance of Ruth Brown's I Don't Know was stunning; blues at its best. their voices beautifully complementing each other.

Burlesque Hour LOVES Melbourne is distinctive and different. Some sixteen acts were packed into the one hour performance and they range from edgy and provocative to over the top fun. For the last four performances (from 11 to 14 August) their special guest will be showgirl Rhonda Burchmore, the lady who has legs up to her armpits and can belt out a song with the best of them.

If you want to brighten up your winter and are not afraid of a little provocation, then get along to fortyfivedownstairs and let The Burlesque Hour LOVES Melbourne know that Melbourne Loves the Burlesque Hour, which judging from the audience reaction, we certainly do.


BURLESQUE HOUR LOVES MELBOURNE

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 17 June – 14 August 2011  (Thurs –Sun)
Tickets: $45/$55. Table bookings available
Bookings: 03 9662 9966 | fortyfivedownstairs.com.au