Glamorous and boldly unconventional, Lola Martinez was the 19th centuries wildest showgirl. The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez is a reimagining of a life rich in adventure and controversy. Courtesan and countess, dancer and actress. Lola lived a life of unwavering pursuit of freedom (and wealth), leaving a wake of amorous scandals involving the likes of Ludwig of Bavaria, George Sand, and composer Franz Liszt.
By the time she made it to the Victorian goldfields, she mastered parlaying her notoriety into celebrity and fortune. Showered with insults and gold nuggets, enthusiastically revered for her persona and beauty. This was a woman reviled for being “utterly subversive to all ideas of public morality”, and “the most libertinish and indelicate performance that could be given on the public stage” (Sydney Morning Herald, 1855).
Melbourne and the Fringe Festival are especially fitting to bring to stage a tribute to a woman that left an indelible mark on Australian history, and an enduring legacy to female performers to this day. Directed by cabaret royalty Moira Finucane, this tribute weaves a delicate tapestry of storytelling, dance, contemporary song, myth and fact that paints a broad if not idiosyncratic picture of Lola Martinez.
Played by award-winning actress (and direct descendant of Lola herself) Caroline Lee, her performance is entrancing, creating a character of Lola that teases, tantalises and challenges us to separate fact from character. Sultry dancer Holly Durant in sparse but delectable moments joins Lee on stage to perform tantalising burlesque routines, suggestive of the enticing appeal that Lola would have provoked. It culminates with both performing a contemporary and still very provocative re-imagining of the infamous spider dance that outraged Australian miners two centuries ago.
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.
The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez runs 28-30 September 2017 at the Gasworks Arts Park. Buy tickets now. The venue is accessible.
Read our guide to Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017.