Catch Jazida

“We’re making art” says Jazida’s accomplice, Artemis Seven, towards the end of Catch Jazida. That statement may be arguable, but what is un-arguable is the artifice employed in creating this cheeky entertainment or the artfulness displayed in its performance.

Since its premiere in this same venue three years ago, Catch Jazida has toured widely and the content revised and finessed.

Devised by Rachel Reid as a showcase for her alter-ego, Jazida, Catch Jazida is a tongue-in-cheek parody, performed by Reid and Morgan Heath-Williams (who works professionally as Artemis Seven), in which the delightfully silly story-line is presented in French film-noir mode.

The premise is that Artemis Seven in the guise of a bumbling detective in Inspector Jacques Clouseau mode, is on a mission to catch the elusive Jazida, who has been accused of stealing a large amount of money.

However, Seven is more than just a detective. He also doubles as narrator, fire warden and janitor responsible for retrieving recalcitrant costume items cast off by Jazida in the course of her eye-popping routines.

Each of Jazida’s costumes is a masterpiece of costume design and her skill in manipulating every component of these complicated costumes, as well as her mastery of her props, soon makes it obvious that Seven’s main purpose is to provide Jazida with the time she needs to get into the costumes she so inventively gets out of.

Already an established burlesque artist when she devised Catch Jazida, Reid had already performed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, been a featured artist in the 2019 Australian Burlesque Festival and was the representative Australian Headliner for the Perth International Burlesque Festival.

Since then she’s won business awards with Jazida Productions, toured widely with the Finucane and Smith Collective and received a Canberra Critics Circle Award for her production Exotic Hypnotica. Catch Jazida won Best Dance in the 2020 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

What were immediately obvious with this latest iteration of the show were the added polish, confidence and assurance displayed by both artists with their performances. The setting and amusing video sequences remain much as before but are now better incorporated into the storyline.

How some of Jazida’s routines fit that storyline is not always obvious. They  include a circus inspired opening; a scarifying fire-eating sequence; an oriental sequence involving a worryingly dangerous shiny metal apparatus and a beautiful sequence in which, completely nude, she manipulates the changing lights in two large feather fans to create a dazzling lightshow.

So while the storyline might be unlikely, it would be hard to argue that it doesn’t provide an entertaining framework for series of captivating routines performed with the kind of professionalism and panache that would be welcomed by any burlesque house in the world.

Catch Jazida
Courtyard Studio – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, Canberra
Performance: Saturday 11 February 2023

Image: Artemis Seven and Jazida in Catch Jazida (supplied)

Review: Bill Stephens OAM