Monday, 19 March 2018

The Diva Dive - Cabaret Review

What: The Diva Dive
When: 15 - 25 March 2018
Where: Hares & Hyenas
Created by: Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith
Performed by: Mama Alto, Clare St Clare, Maude Davey, Moira Finucane, Kathryn Niesche, and Yumi Umiamare

Moira Finucane
To attend a Finucane & Smith production is to be transported to a land of glory, freedom, and responsibility. It is a world where ugliness is exposed through beauty and truth, and freedom is gained through knowledge of self and others. To enter The Diva Dive at Hares & Hyenas is to open another portal into a transcendental meditation which promises liberation and delight.

The poster says the artists may change each evening as is the tradition of both the company and the genre. Very few places or people offer traditional burlesque in real cabaret format, but at The Diva Dive this is exactly what you will get.

On the night I went the particular smorgasbord of cabaret, drama, and variety consisted of some of Finucane & Smith's longest and most masterful collaboraters. At the centre of it all, of course, was the glorious beast that is Moira Finucane.

The divine Mama Alto and mesmeric Clare St Clare were back singing sublime duets as well as exquisite solo numbers. As their angelic voices combined in the opening number, the heavenly harmonies caused our souls to rise up and be freed from our earthly chains, opening our minds and our hearts to another way of seeing and hearing.  In act two Mama Alto croons 'I'm Kissing You' and as I closed my eyes I really did feel that each note, each word was a caress. St Clare followed up a little later with a powerful rendition of 'Diamonds In The Sky', lifting us up and refreshing the wind beneath our wings. There was much about healing and empowerment in The Diva Dive.

The Diva Dive is something a little out of the ordinary for this remarkable team as the entire show is a collection of new work, or new re-workings, none of which have been rehearsed as a formalised stage presentation, so the evening had a wonderful frisson of the uncertain. Having said that, with the detail and texture of the evening we really would not know this if we hadn't been told.

In the spirit of the evening, Finucane brought us new monologues featuring crows. Crows feature in Leviticus as being a creature unfit for eating. Finucane takes the idea of eating crow and turns it on it's head. As with all her work, she is essentially saying do not let people make you smaller than you are. Do not be humbled, do not be silenced. Speak up and be all that you can be.

Finucane is a master orator (as well as being a scientist, and artiste, and... a diva!) so when she speaks you cannot help but listen. During the course of the evening she reprises her story about the Auks which was the cornerstone of the show The Rapture. This time around it frames the problem of fracking in the Northern Territory and how the Aboriginal people on that land will lose their stories if they lose their water. Finucane doesn't just tell us the story though. She gives us something we can do about it.

This is another cornerstone of all Finucane & Smith works. They are about moving forward, showing another set of choices which can be made, and offering us all the chance to make them.

In this spirit Maude Davey brought us a delicate new and original work. Using song and monologue Davey took us on a three part journey. It began with a heartfelt and plaintive song 'Give Me More'. She then meandered with us through the tale of a tree pruning - so very mundane and yet so very impactful on all of creation. She finishes with the hymnal 'I Have Tried To Be Free'. The power of this piece is devastating exactly because it is so light and ephemeral. Davey is also continuing her explorations of the body in conversation with the text which adds intrigue.

The night is not dark and mournful as my words so far may imply. It is variety and burlesque and in the spirit of the unrehearsed Finucane brings us the fun improvised monologue game. Daring the audience to offer up words which shall confound she cunningly and wittily tells epic stories in three minutes with whatever fodder the audience has gifted.

Niesche, the every helpful monkey, performed a delightful variety act including prestidigitation and mime. As well, rather than the traditional organ grinder, she serenaded us on tuned liquor glasses before farewelling us with handkerchief origami.

The Diva Dive salon was not complete though, until the unforgettable Yumi Umiamare graced us with her elegant tea ceremony. The ceremony is an ancient tradition of purity, cleansing, and sharing. This stunning diva breaks through all of the history of secrecy with a joyous and irreverant burlesque act of superb impropriety. Freeing herself from her corsets she explodes in a hurricane of joyous energy.

To attend any Finucane & Smith event is to experience freedom, love, joy and celebration. The Diva Dive is something extra special because it is so full of the nascent. This group of beautiful and powerful women wrap a warm and nourishing womb around the audience as well as their work and from this incubator something powerful and promising is sent out into the world, healing wounds and washing away pain, always making it better.

Do not miss you chance to realise true freedom. The Diva Dive, like all new born creatures, is only young once and seats are very limited. To miss this show is to have one true regret in your life. Oh, and yes, it has every glittery sparkle and visually breathtaking element Finucane & Smith are internationally renowned for!

5 Stars


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