FJC-Moira-Finucane-photo-by-Jodie-HutchinsonI have a jar of grapefruit marmalade that’s nearly empty. It’s one of about 800 that Moira Finucane made during lockdown. It’s bloody delicious and it brought me joy. Making for other people creates joy.

And joy is overflowing at the Future Joy Club.

Finucane and Smith are back. And they’ve assembled a heart-exploding group of performers who all defy expectations to create joy, connection and the kind of community that’s going to make change.

It’s coming up to 20 years since Finucane & Smith first presented The Burlesque Hour in Melbourne. I remember my first time and have lost count of how many Finucane & Smith shows I’ve seen since.

Here was subversive queer feminism that embraced sexuality and sex and welcomed performers who didn’t fit the expectations of that gaze that still makes most of us shudder. It wasn’t only seeing astonishing art, it was being in a world that questioned why we feel the need to meet unrealistic and boring expectations.

This audience grew exponentially. The company was travelling Australia and the world and developing performers who were missed by the mainstream and the boring expectations of that so-blah gaze.

Then the world shut. It’s hard to stop when you’re on the brink of something extraordinary.

Moria Finucane is still in her pjs when she opens the Club with a reflection on those times when joy was hard to find. She starts when someone was speaking to her as a director (of a very successful international show by Jackie Smith) and said that they didn’t recognise with her clothes on. Urgggh.

Yet, she chose to find the positive.

When tours, developments, and everything else was cancelled, finding the positive wasn’t easy. So many Zooms; so little contact. And while her Zoom performances ­- that included a cocktail delivery – were highlights of many of us in lockdown, the joy of real connection was missing.

But that’s over. Drinks are poured, clothes are off, expectations are exploded, and hearts are overflowing as connections are made again.

And this is all before any of the Future Joy Club performers are welcomed.

Melbourne’s Mama Alto beings the night with I will survive. She is transcendent. Hearing her sing and talk creates new brain cells and makes you know that you are going to be a better person from that moment on.

Lois Olney is a Ngarluma women from Western Australia. She went to school with Moira, is a jazz and blues singer, is accompanied by guitarist Dave Johnson, and leaves the room silent as no one wants to breath in case they miss a note.

She sings classics and songs she wrote for her family. She talks and sings about the solen generation and deaths in custody, but she creates with love. Her art finds joy in experiences that are unfair and still unimaginable to most of us.

Jadzia performs traditional burlesque while rejecting the assumptions that burlesque or strip are exploitative or only for a certain viewer. Her strip starts with art and becomes exquisite as she redefines the nature of strip.

Then there’s Rachel Lewindon, Iva Rosebud, Sophie Koh and Govind Pillai, who are each unforgettable as they have the freedom to perform the way they are meant to perform. So much of new creation is based on expectations of what people might want.

But art comes alive when it’s what the artist wants to make, even if that’s writing a song for strangers on Zoom, singing a bilingual version of “Creep” or pulling off gaffer tape as a final revelation.

Future Joy Club is joy. That’s enough reason to see it. Future Joy Club is art. That’s also enough reason. But at the heart of every Finucane and Smith show is the question of why we make and see art.

Every performance begins with this question. And the answers are as profound as they are bold, ridiculous, obvious, or silly.

If you haven’t experienced a Finucane and Smith show, you deserve to. Everyone deserves a night at the Future Joy Club. There are tickets for all income levels, but they are all disappearing fast.

La Trobe Ball Room – Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, 25 Collins Street Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 16 July 2022
Season continues to 7 August 2022
Information and Bookings:

Image: Moira Finucane – photo by Jodie Hutchinson

Review: Anne-Marie Peard