Lola Montez died when she was 42. And when she was 90. And also when she was 36 and 64 years of age. She died on stage and on a ship. She breathed her last breath in Melbourne and also in Bavaria. So unpredictable and unique was this Irish actor / entertainer's life that it was only a matter of time before a show was created about her, and who better to do that than Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith with The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez.
A red curtain
runs along the back of the stage, with Lola's name hanging on a piece of wood.
A chest rests in the middle of the floor, again inscribed with her name. The
large, near-empty performance space at Her Majesty's Ballarat could easily
dwarf a lesser performer, but fortunately Caroline Lee as the eponymous
entertainer (herself a direct descendant of Lola) easily fills the stage with
the energy and enthusiasm that Lola would no doubt have possessed. Finucane's
signature large, bold movements are evident in her direction, while ensuring
that we get to see a vulnerable and (somewhat) honest side to Lola.
Joining Lee on
stage is dancer Holly Durant whose acts build on Lola's escapades and
create captivating live art interpretations of what is being shared with us.
There's a variety of music throughout with each song - including Sarah Vaughan's
aptly titled "Whatever Lola Wants", Michael Bublé 's
"Feeling Good" and Goldfrapp's "Oh La La" - highlighting
different aspects of Lola's personality.
imaginative and descriptive script takes us on a number of Lola's
adventures, including her scandalous performance in Melbourne in 1855 and her
subsequent attack of a reviewer in Ballarat who had criticised her show.
Lola's words come alive on stage, and with a well-thought out and supportive
score - and a little imagination - you can virtually see these events happening
on the stage.
portrayal of who Lola was and how she should have behaved can easily be seen as an affront as to
how women were supposed to behave back in the 1800s, and to some extent, how
women are supposed to behave today. Lola never conformed to anybody's rule and
whatever Lola wanted, Lola really did get. You could be forgiven for thinking
that some of the stories in The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez are
embellished, and for all we know maybe they are, but this is a show about a
woman who never let others dictate who or what she should be and Finucane and
Smith never lose sight of that.
Lives of Lola Montez
was performed at Her Majesty's Ballarat
between 28 - 30 July. For further touring information, visit Finucane & Smith.