Review: Little Egypt’s Speakeasy (Grand Moustache / Django Bar)

grandmoustacheVenue: Camelot Lounge (Marrickville NSW), Nov 6 – 9, 2014
Writers: Luke Escombe, Lucian McGuiness, Dominic Santangelo
Director: Lucian McGuiness
Cast: Brian Campeau, Kelly Ann Doll, Amos Elroy, Luke Escombe, Danica Lee, Lucian McGuiness, Katie-Elle Reeve, Dominic Santangelo, Damien Slingsby, Elana Stone, Aaron Flower, Nick Hoorweg, Evan Mannell, Mathew Ottignon
Image by Frank Farrugia

Theatre review
The term speakeasy refers to the illegal trade of alcohol during the American “prohibition” period from 1920 to 1933, and Little Egypt is the name of an exotic dancer from even earlier in the twentieth century. Lucian McGuiness’ show Little Egypt’s Speakeasy draws inspiration from both, to recreate the setting of a nightclub filled with sounds and sights from the 1950s. McGuiness is leader of the handsomest band in town, with four kooky vocalists, and a beatnik MC who provides the thread that helps us imagine the narrative that the show is vaguely built upon. Incorporated flawlessly are two burlesque dancers and the band leader’s comedic brother Don who owns the joint.

There are some stellar performances in the piece. The dancers Kelly Ann Doll and Danica Lee are both scintillating and drop dead gorgeous. The MC and narrator Amos Elroy has the deepest voice imaginable from a baby face, with a use of words and humour that is transportative and quite magnificent. Singer Elana Stone is vibrant in personality and in voice, and her male counterpart Brian Campeau is simply divine with a Chet Baker style sensuality, only with much stronger pipes. McGuiness is star of the show with an extraordinarily sharp presence that exemplifies the irresistible sexual allure of the entire evening.

Don and his club’s story do not quite take hold, but the introduction of a through line for a cabaret show is ambitious and astute. It is almost human nature to want to follow a plot, and the experience is certainly enriched with Don and the MC bringing cohesion to the many separate items presented. Little Egypt’s Speakeasy brings a taste of the bohemian life to Sydney, and it is delicious.

camelotlounge.wordpress.com | www.lucianmcguiness.com

My Life In The Nude (La Mama Theatre)

maudeVenue: La Mama Theatre (Carlton VIC), Jul 3 – 21, 2013
Devised and Performed by: Maude Davey
Director: Anni Davey

Theatre review
Maude Davey is a living legend in the Melbourne burlesque scene, having performed over 20 years in varying stages of nudity, combining various forms of theatrical disciplines. In this swan song My Life In The Nude, Davey takes an intimate look back at that career, presenting memories in monologue sequences, as well as performing key burlesque/cabaret pieces, almost in a “greatest hits” format. She reprises a 1991 competition winning work involving a secret strawberry, which kick started her work exploring nudity, and goes through a phenomenal repertoire, culminating in an emotional Butoh-style work about ageing, with a character reminiscent of Grizabella from the Cats musical.

Even though every sequence is meticulously choreographed and always packing a powerful political punch, tenacious in the representation of queer and feminist ideologies, it is ultimately the presence of the artist that makes the show the masterpiece that it is. Davey’s craft is honed to perfection. The audience simply has no where to run when she is onstage, lost in her charisma, her humour, her every gesture and every poignant utterance. Davey imbues each moment on stage with great reverence and generosity, and it is in that spirit of giving of her self that we find ourselves in awe and in the receiving end of a rare gift, not just of masterful showmanship but also of sheer naked humanity.

www.lamama.com.au