Adelaide Fringe 2014
Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box
Finucane & Smith
Festival: Adelaide Fringe
Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box is an astonishing collection of the titillating, the decadent, and the macabre. Floating somewhere in the murky depths between burlesque, vaudeville, and a carnival of the grotesque, this is work that changes the game.
We all approach burlesque-style work with different expectations. Some of us are looking for work that surprises; as unexpected as it is delightful, dangerous and hilarious in turns, work that will astonish us with the urgency of the performers and the ingenuity of the performance. Some of us come seeking titillation – sexy people in provocative costume doing sexy things to arouse and gratify. And some of us have come for the feats of strength and skill: daring escapes and mind numbing acts of physical prowess. Finally, some of us look to purveyors of this sort of work for symbols of empowerment, reappropriation of the trappings of the patriarchy, subverted and redirected as emblems of feminine power.
Opening Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box, we find all of these inside, layer upon layer, woven together into a powerful hour of performance that never sits still, never ceases to amaze, and always entertains. The risk with burlesque bent on ‘taking back the power’ is that it can end up having a bitterly didactic taste – we feel like we’re being preached to; there’s a price for the sexy, paid in guilt and shame. Managing to stay on message politically and yet avoid this sense of naggy blamefulness is a delicate balancing act, but Finucane and Smith pull it off with panache as their Glory Box unravels. It’s like expecting a purring kitten and discovering a lion instead – we are so overwhelmed by our discovery of the unexpected and by the sheer craft of the performance that the carefully curated collection of bodies of every shape and size, performances ranging from sultry songstress to Priscilla, Queen of the Damned, is never noted for its extraordinary breadth until afterwards, when we are ruminating on this strange vintage.
Then, as we are trying to recall the moments of obscene decadence, we will take note of how sexy was redefined – how we were in the grip of this performance and its makers; not the other way ‘round. It’s a bit like stepping off the boat to discover you’re on Pleasure Island – every pleasure taking its toll; we can see flashes of the danger behind the delight, the hidden world under the velvety glitter of the sequins and feathers. The untouchable enigma of David Lynch – it’s difficult to make sense of at times and we can only watch, knowing that, though we are being slapped at the moment, soon the Glory Box will tickle us, drawing us ever further into its tapestry of the obscene.
Lilikoi speaks to us after the show. We’re waiting for the mistress of ceremonies, Moira Finucane – co-creator and leader of this ensemble of unmentionables, to finish dressing and come outside. Lillikoi tells us that all the women in the act have been brought together – collected because of their performances and their unique styles – Lilikoi spins hula hoops, escapes from dire predicaments, and sizzles as she owns us during the show.
Outside, she is approachable and friendly; confident and proud of her acts and of the Glory Box as a whole. All of the performers seem to be full of smiles as they stand outside the grand old spiegeltent, hawking pants and chatting with friends, and they have reason to be. Their show is a masterstroke of craft, and each of them play vital roles within the greater work as a whole.
When Finucane emerges, she is radiant, full of energy, happy to answer all of our questions. She’s travelled the world with her box full of oddments and won accolades on almost every continent, gathering up fans as she goes. The Glory Box was created on a rainy day in China when she and co-creator Jackie Smith shared a vision and vowed to make it a reality. Selling out from the moment it was born, Glory Box is still as vital and in demand ten years later as it was then. Expect to be challenged, provoked, erotocized and maybe even a little frightened when you open the Glory Box. Not to be missed.