The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez


It was almost inevitable that Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith, creators of feisty, feminist, sexy burlesque cabaret shows such as this year’s Glory Box, would be drawn to Lola Montez.

Image: The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez via Melbourne Fringe.

It was almost inevitable that Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith, creators of feisty, feminist, sexy burlesque cabaret shows such as this year’s Glory Box, would be drawn to Lola Montez. The notorious 19th century exotic dancer and actress defied convention to live life her way, and it’s this desire for freedom that drives The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez along. There’s much more going on in this biographical show, however. It’s framed around the uncertain nature of the scandalous stories told about her, and also suggests that Montez paved the way for later female performers.

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The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez premiered in July at Ballarat’s Her Majesty’s Theatre, where the real Montez was reportedly showered with gold nuggets by miners in 1856. They loved her infamous Spider Dance, but others were scandalised, including the editor of The Ballarat Times. It’s said that she publicly horsewhipped him because of his negative review. It comes to Melbourne for the Fringe Festival at Gasworks, a space probably too open for an almost-one-woman show seeking an intimate connection with the audience. There was a connection on opening night, but it seemed fragile.

After a short prologue that eventually circled…

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