Finucane and Smith's Glory BoxFinucane and Smith’s Glory Box has one of those great titles that sits in front of a rather poorly-conceived production. I might have thought a more accurate description would be 'Finucane and Smith’s Lucky Dip', but that probably wouldn’t have drawn the crowds, would it?

I am unsure of the value of such performances as Finucane and Smith’s Glory Box. It seems to me I have just sat at the window of a room and looked in while a few people play dress ups and do silly little routines for no reason other than their own amusement. Apart from a couple of engaging performances, this really didn’t strike me as being a professional production at all. In fact, I wouldn’t even credit most of these performances as a worthwhile party trick without a little more polish.

Not quite funny enough to be burlesque, and with too much canned music to be cabaret, I am really not sure what to make of this production. A soundtrack of mostly 1990s-era pop and alternative tunes accompanied some rather puerile performances. A woman pops some balloons using nails attached to the clothing over her genitalia, a chap does a little dance and hands out a few stuffed toys. Finucane spills food on herself a few times and a couple of dancers have a fit on the floor. Now I like a bit of silliness as much as the next person, but I tend to like it to be entertaining in some way. Make a reference, perhaps. Make a bit of silliness out of something serious, or draw in some popular culture or high art references. I found myself one too many times wondering if what I was seeing was supposed to be funny, or if it was some unobtainable performance art accessible only to the initiated few. Either way, it just felt like a really bad karaoke night. With almost no one actually singing.

As with most karaoke, though, it had its moments of brilliance. The first came in the middle of the first act, where Maude Davey performed (yes, actually sang it, even if it was to a canned band) Portishead’s definitive Glory Box from 1995. Davey’s rendition certainly gives Beth Gibbons a run for her money, and it seemed that finally, the show was starting. Finally there was some genuine engagement with the audience, a character with some depth, and this may just be the start of something great. I was sadly mistaken and had to wait until after the interval for another moment of value.

Coming in from the interval I was not optimistic, but was pleasantly surprised with the first piece, which was essentially a circus act with hula hoops. Anna Lumb’s skill with the hoops was matched by a great concept and a speeding and slowing track of The Beach Boys’ Get Around.

And that was the end of brilliance. Finucane delivered an interesting performance art work involving the National Gallery of Victoria and a whole lot of water (yes, it’s like Sea World; don’t sit in the front row), and there was a little more nonsense that I would roughly liken to a few boys in a school playground making farting noises with their armpits.

I felt overall that this production is something of a tragedy. Clearly these performers have talent, and I would love to see them put it to good use, but I think I’d prefer that karaoke night at the pub, really. And perhaps, just perhaps, if this same production was staged in a pub, rather than a theatre, it may have been just the right atmosphere for it to shine. Certainly having alcohol on tap would help.

The Street presents

Venue: The Street Theatre | Corner Childers St & University Ave Canberra ACT
Dates: November 28 - December 8, 2012
Bookings: | 02 6247 1223


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