Review: Caravan Burlesque
Finucane & Smith’s Caravan Burlesque… Wilder West! The Substation, Feb 5 – 14
Sitting near the end of a stylish catwalk in a darkened room inside The Substation, I felt I was having one of the most intense and yet one of the most relaxed experiences Midsumma Festival had to offer. I wasn’t really expecting a night of burlesque to show me what needs to change for the LGBTI community, and it didn’t. Shows like this one are social change incarnate. Here you get to see what Queer people do when they’re not being Queer, just in case you were wondering what else we might get up to. I still don’t know exactly where any of the performers would places themselves on the spectrums of gender and sexuality, but that’s beside the point. They were there to do what they do best: entertain, by every means possible. The show is intense in its almost ceaseless stampede of sights and sounds, but relaxed in that there is no pressure felt to “get” any of what you see and hear. The most bizarre and seemingly colourless occurrences are almost always made engaging by the cast’s fearless sincerity. When they had me in their grip there was no looking away, but when they failed to grab me I started to ask myself a very dangerous question – how is this entertaining? Watching the dancers and acrobats I knew it was their physical prowess that I was appreciating and enjoying, but it’s difficult to say why some of the zanier acts pulled me in while others pushed me away. It’s hardly important though in a show that’s always running back and forth between every theatrical extreme you can think of – loud, soft, quick, dark, cheerful, chilling – so much so that no one in the audience ever gets left behind for long. Sadly it did lose me towards the end with a couple of one-joke comic pieces and some songs that were quite repetitively staged and sung. Without these additions I might have been in a more celebratory mood for the big musical send-off, but I certainly hadn’t forgotten the freshness of the earlier acts. This round of Caravan Burlesque certainly puts its best foot forward, and only slightly stumbles on its way out.
– Christian Tsoutsouvas