Review / Spell-binding Lola flirts, dances and strips!

Theatre / “The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez”. Written by Jackie Smith and directed by Moira Finucane. At the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, September 13. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS

Holly Durant, top, and Caroline Lee in “The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez”.

EXOTIC dancer Lola Montez is one of Australia’s more intriguing historical characters, whose main claim to fame is that she reportedly scandalised the Ballarat miners with her erotic spider dance and horsewhipped an unfortunate theatre critic who gave her a bad review.

Not wanting to risk a similar fate, I’m pleased to report that writer Jackie Smith has cleverly embellished this information with her own imaginings to fashion an entertainingly subversive and intriguing script, for which director, Moira Finucane has devised a gloriously theatrical production, utilising elements of burlesque razzle dazzle to sugar coat messages of body image, celebrity, and girl power.

Red-fringed curtains, red lanterns and red roses decorate the space. A large wooden cabin trunk, which doubles as an altar, a bed or a podium, is positioned centre stage together with an elegant chair draped with a Spanish shawl.

Caroline Lee gives a spell-binding performance as Lola Montez, drawing on her considerable acting skills to create a character who teases and tantalises throughout the prolonged verbal striptease.

Beautifully gowned, she flirts outrageously, always promising more as she weaves together fact and myth to lead her audience up a proverbial garden path, where in the stunning spider-dance finale, all is revealed literally.

Seamlessly weaving in and out of the Lola’s story, dancer Holly Durant performs a series of glamorous burlesque routines which slyly comment on Lola’s story while adding additional sex appeal and eye candy to an already remarkable presentation.

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