Monday 13 June 2016

My Life In The Nude - Cabaret Review

WHAT: My Life In The Nude 
WHERE: fortyfivedownstairs
WHEN: 16-27 July
Written and performed by Maude Davey
Directed by Anni Davey
Design by Isaac Lummis
Lighting by Bronwyn Pringle.

The atmosphere of the audience as they entered the theatre for this show was one of eagerness and excitement.  This season of My Life In The Nude is an encore, by popular demand, of the original La Mamma production in 2013.  The show was a sell out success then, and will undoubtedly be one again at fortyfivedownstairs.

fortyfivedownstairs can often feel like a chasmic space, but the room has been cordoned off and, as a result, a great sense of intimacy is created.  The lush red velvet curtains and cabaret tables set around the stage make the room warm and inviting and bring to mind cabaret venues of old.  The stage is a simple thrust catwalk but the attention to detail is wonderful, including glitter on the edges of the stairs.  An aura of plush decadence has been created.  Maude points out the resemblance of the stage curtains to female genitalia at one point in the performance.  Isaac Lummis’s design is breathtaking, yet simple and works to support all aspects of the show.  The costumes are also outstanding – my personal favourite being the gorilla suit with booby tassles.

My Life In The Nude is not only a retrospective of Maude’s career as a burlesque artist, but is also a commentary on it as well as being the next chapter in the conversation she has always strived to engage in on how we look at the female body.  In this sense, Maude’s work is more classic burlesque than American burlesque.  It is not explicitly sexualised or deliberately titillating.  For most of the show Maude is in the nude (with some amazing accessories at times), but perhaps her strongest statement about the female body comes when she performs as a man.

The show is in two acts with an interval.  The first half works like a ‘best of’ highlights reel of Maude’s career.  The second act is more pointed and poignant, and is where we really get to see who Maude is as a woman and as an artist.  The entire show is a raucous, rollicking night of fun and laughter, with the audience being dragged into the hilarity at various points.  You never know what is coming until it happens.  The audience spent the entire night switching between bellyaching laughter and riotous applause. 

5 Stars

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