By now Melbourne audiences are used to the theatrical and cabaret brilliance of Finucane and Smith, currently performing at La Mama in Melbourne.
By now Melbourne audiences are used to the theatrical and cabaret brilliance of Finucane and Smith. Not only have they dazzled us with The Burlesque Hour on many an occasion, Gotharama and The Saucy Cantina, but now they come together to bring us Salon de Dance – an intimate cabaret filled to the brim with bizarre and wonderful dances. Upon entering La Mama the audience is seated at little round tables with candles, reminiscent of a 1930’s cabaret venue. We are then introduced to our sexy compare for the evening, performed by Maude Davey, who introduces the show to us in a newly acquired French accent and sets the scene for what is about to come. The first act is a hula hooping ballerina, performed by Jess Love, who shows us only a fraction of what she is capable of doing with her amazing circus skills. In fact I would have liked to seen more of Miss Love, as I have seen her perform on many an occasion and know just what she is capable of doing. The next act is a handsome and sexy priest, performed by Paul Cordeiro, who knows that he is hot stuff and doesn’t have any problems letting the audience know. He treats us to some very good dancing, raunchy costumes and a virtual strip show, leaving nothing to the imagination. The act after that was a quirky little piece performed by Rob McCredie. The audience is introduced to a man in a tuxedo who does an interpretative style dance with interludes of funny music. While overall it was an upbeat number, I thought went on for a tad too long. Then on struts Moira Finucane looking like a rock’n’roll chic from hell with dark sunglasses and smoke oozing out of her mouth like the mother of a dragon. In contrast to the high energy Music, Finucane entertains and mesmerizes us by merely smoking a cigarette for the length of her performance. It might sound boring but it definitely worked on a theatrical level. We are then entertained by the delightful Yumi Umimare who looks like she has just stepped out of 1940’s Japan. She puts on a suede coat and suddenly, like the girl with the red shoes, is forced to dance until she can’t stop. The audience is truly entertained by this comical number and delights in seeing all parts of her body moving like a possessed demon. Then finally, before interval, we see Holly Durant and Harriet Ritchie dressed up as kittens doing a nicely synchronized dance until all hell breaks loose and they start to beat each other up. But wait there’s more. During the interval, which by the way has got to be the best interval I have ever experienced, the audience could buy a dance with any of the performers. Many of the audience members took this offer up and suddenly the little La Mama courtyard was packed with couple dancing, drinking and an all round good time. Then it was back into the theatre for part 2. The first thing you notice upon re-entering the theatre is the dramatic change in set. It is now an elaborate room where Yumi is waiting in stillness, in a long white gown, for the audience to seat themselves. There is an element of suspense in the air until we see the creepy face of Moira Finucane appear through a little window cut into the set. This piece is called The Banquet Room and is about two demonic sisters who settle down to the business of supper in their tiny banquet room. While this might sound straightforward, it is anything from that. Instead the audience is witness to two women who look and behave like they have just escaped form an asylum and where every kind of culinary debauchery is possible and imaginable. We then get a lovely and soulful version of Nina Simone’s Sugar by Maude Davey, who uses the La Mama staircase brilliantly, followed by an interlude from the talented Jess Love, and then the two dancers Holly Durant and Harriet Ritchie again. This time the pair had us really entertained with some booty dancing, backlit shadow work and some nice fake breasts – but you really have to see the show to appreciate what I am referring to here. Finally, and I mean finally, we are re-introduced to Paul Cordeiro who begins this last dance in a zip-up snake skin bag and emerges reborn as a blue Indian type god. Again he wows us with his costumery and dancing skills until he is covered in beads of sweat. Oh I forgot to mention the absinthe that the audience is also given as a special little French cabaret treat. While Salon de Dance may not be a typical dance show, you had still better put your dance shoes on, get your dance card ready and be treated to an intimate night of comical, quirky and debauch cabaret. WHAT: SALON DE DANCE WHERE: LA MAMA THEATRE 205 Faraday Street, Carlton A FINUCANE & SMITH PRODUCTION STARRING: Moira Finucane, Yumi Umimare, Jess Love, Maude Davey, Paul Cordeiro, Holly Durant, Harriet Ritchie, Rob McCredie, plus other guest stars throughout the season 11 March – 29 March, 2009 Weds to Sats at 8.00pm, Suns at 6.30pm TICKETS: $25 / $12 Duration: 90 minutes approx. BOOKINGS: 9347 6142 /

Melynda von Derksen

Friday 13 March, 2009

About the author

Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne's best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 - onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.