Theatre review (of Feb 26, 2014 show)
La Femme Boheme are two stunning burlesque performers, Mariesa Mae and Penelope Morgan. Their residency at The Spice Cellar begins at 8pm every Wednesday night, showcasing a series of numbers, solo and partnered, designed to fascinate and allure. Also present at tonight’s performance were pianist Olly Stanton and guest singer Antigone Foster, providing further entertainment to complement the stars.
The femmes’ show is raunchy but also elegant. It appeals to audiences of all sexual persuasions, as their work is not only about providing titillation. There is humour peppered throughout the evening, with a resulting experience that is cheerily light-hearted. There is a sweet fairy tale, a funny monologue about Mae’s early discovery of the art form in primary school, and a sequence involving multi-coloured balloons worn like bananas on Josephine Baker.
The women are a perfect visual match. They are virtually identical in height and shape, but they are also entirely distinct in personality and styles. Morgan is coy, while Mae is assertive. The yin-yang dynamic gives the show a lovely balance, but Morgan does stand out with a little more polish and confidence. Her sequence in a glorious mirrored bath tub is a show stealer, and truly breathtaking.
Most of the music is pre-recorded, but Stanton and Foster’s live performances add good variety to the evening. The grand piano in The Spice Cellar sounds and looks fabulous, and Stanton playing cabaret and burlesque classics on it certainly elevates the tone of the proceedings. Foster’s vocals are strong and idiosyncratic, giving excellent counterpoint to the headliners, especially in more familiar fare like “Cry Me A River” and “Hey Big Spender”.
At the core of their show is a commitment to creating images of beauty. It is an interesting and rare balance that La Femme Boheme explore, one that does not alienate any adult; man or woman, gay or straight. Desire exists in many forms, and the ladies allow us to relate to them in different ways. Are they goddesses, kittens, heroines, or clowns? The choice is yours, but the performance is best consumed with an open mind.