NOT A REVIEW: Hanussen – The Palace of Burlesque (Q)

The ensemble of Hanussen -- The Palace Burlesque Show

Burle…. [by Sharu Delilkan]

The ensemble of Hanussen -- The Palace Burlesque Show

“Willkommen, Willkommen, have we got a show for you.” So started the Hanussen – The Palace of Burlesque show.

The audience laughed and clapped. “Why?” you might ask. And the reason was they didn’t have a show for us. For once in a burlesque blue moon the show was not going to go on.

What? How? Why? Talking to the cast afterwards we were told that there were problems with rigging the multitude of poles, frames, ropes and kinky burlesque paraphernalia that would have meant the performers could have plummeted to their deaths, if the show did indeed go on. Reiterated by the show’s MC when he said “We can’t afford to pay for your psychiatry bills, if that happens.”

So as the drinks flowed and the hubbub of excited anticipation got louder in Q’s foyer bar the clock started ticking noticeably past the 8 pm start time…

But I honestly wasn’t worried at all because we was enjoying the company of some long lost mates while savouring Q’s lovely rosé. And the stilt walkers entertaining the punters doing all sorts of moves, including contortions, made us feel like the show had already begun. They even came up to our table and used our oversized umbrella as part of their act, which went down a treat with the passers-by on Queen Street.

Eventually there was an announcement saying that the show was being postponed due to “technical difficulties” – to the general dismay of many who were looking forward to a night filled with naughtiness, acrobatics, nudity, music, song and intrigue.

But amidst this reverberation, we were all told that there would be a 15-20 minute teaser of the non-acrobatic elements of the show, coupled with an invitation to come back for another show.

The set was very impressive as we made our way to our table which was literally ‘ringside’. It was definitely a feast for the eyes with 2 ridiculously tall stilt walkers gyrating around the forest of poles that were dotted around the stage and a screen for shadow puppetry. This was complemented by the live band on stage, fronted by a fishnet stockinged female donned with a ‘Slash’-esque hat and dreadlocks. Her multi-talented horn playing, including playing two different sized saxophones simultaneously, was impressive enough. Not to mention the set of lungs she had on her – boy could she sing! Her spine tingling voice created a beautifully poignant atmosphere with the Middle Eastern sounding chant that went through your bones and out the other side like a neutrino.

The short and sweet show that The Loons Circus Theatre Company put on was slick and stylish.

The thing that really made impression on us was the honest way that the MC dealt with a difficult and immensely awkward situation. He simply apologised and said that we would all get free tickets to a later show of our choice.

It was also a lesson in Kiwi solidarity. Nobody booed, nobody complained, in fact the whole audience was sympathetic – it epitomised the true Kiwi spirit.

And it may sound crass to compare the cancellation of a theatrical show to life threatening events, but the fact that The Loons Circus Theatre Company come from Christchurch only seemed to highlight that persevering “we’re in it together” attitude.

After being titillated and tantalised by that tasty treat I feel like I have to see how this all ends. At the moment it’s like reading a story with no ending…

I for one feel strangely privileged to have been there when the show ‘didn’t go on’. Not to gloat, or to cut ‘tall poppies’ down to size but to be there and see the unscripted, unambiguous, kind words of support of the audience for Cantabrians in a situation beyond their control. It was a privilege, an honour and something that makes me proud to be a Kiwi.

Hanussen – The Palace of Burlesque plays at the Rangatira, Q until 14 April. More information see Q

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