Produced, designed, directed and performed by Jazida.
Lighting by Craig Dear
Belconnen Arts Centre until 12th February.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens.
Over the last few years Canberra has seen a surge of interest in burlesque, a form of entertainment which at its best combines striptease, nudity, circus skills and spectacular costuming of the type spearheaded by Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith with their lavish “Burlesque Hour” and “Glory Box” revues.
In Canberra this art form has been enthusiastically embraced by Rachel Reid, who works professionally as Jazida. In addition to performing professionally around the country, winning business awards with her own Alternate Performing Arts Hub, Flazeda, Jazida continues to develop her own performing skills for she has twice attracted government funding from ArtsACT .
“Exotic Hynotica” is the result of her second ArtsACT grant, and is an extraordinary achievement. Essentially a one-woman show, but with a supporting cast of eight members of the Fabulous Fan Dancers, who in addition to contributing spectacular routines with fans and Chinese silks, also move scenery and clear away discarded costumes.
|Jazida and The Fabulous Fan Dancers|
The title of the show refers to an imaginary wellness clinic which offers hypnosis as service to help clients become the person they’ve always wanted to be. Thankfully though, the show doesn’t actually include any actual hypnosis and except for one short song, any audience participation.
Instead the clinic staff appear in filmed segments and interact with Jazida, providing the show with an engaging through-line, which with an excellent script, allows Jazida to address the audience directly with thoughtful comments about her own pathway, acceptance, body image and inclusiveness.
Through-out the show Jazida displays an amazing variety of skills. She sings while performing hair-raising fire-eating, performs acrobatics in a suspended hoop, flirts with a sword, strips away her elaborate make-up, and later re-applies it with extraordinary finesse in full view of the audience. She performs rap songs, interacts with the TV screens in sketches, all the time changing from one eye- popping outfit to another even more so.
Her costumes are lavish, and her props excellent. The show features original songs, including a couple of catchy ones which she wrote herself. She made many of the costumes, edited the video, built the fog-screen and collaborated on the set design with Craig Dear, who was also responsible for the excellent lighting. She even directed the show herself, and not surprisingly, the strain of all this showed in the messy finale.
In creating “Exotic Hypnotica”, Jazida has created a superb showcase for her many skills which she performs with admirable finesse and style. This is a show that could easily tour. However it now requires the skills of an experienced director familiar with the genre to tweak and sharpen the presentation to lift it to the professional level it deserves.
In her printed program Jazida thanks, among others, Maude Davey, Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith with whom she collaborated for dramaturgical support and advice. Having got the show this far, perhaps a little more collaboration in this direction would do the trick. The show is certainly worth the effort.
Photos by Tobias Price
This review published in the digital edition of CITY NEW on 10.02.22