Monday 3 July 2017

The Rapture - Theatre Review

What: The Rapture
When: 29 June - 16 July 2017
Where: fortyfivedownstairs
Written by: Moira Finucane
Directed by: Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith
Performed by: Mama Alto, Shirley Cattunar, Miss Chief, Moira Finucane, and Clare St Clare
Composed by: Darrin Verhagen and Ben Keene
Visual Art by: William Eicholtz and Catherine Lane and Arts Project Australia
Couture by: Gun Shy, Anastasia Le Fey, and Keon Couture
Lighting by: Simon Hardy

Mama Alto, Moira Finucane, and Clare St Clare
The nights are cold, candles are burning, and we all stay closer to home as the day turns to night so much quicker this midwinter and the sun is so reluctant to rise again the next day. In these witching hours as our world seems so much smaller and uninviting our thoughts roam at large trying to work past the darkness and into the light. Witnessing Finucane and Smith's latest show The Rapture at fortyfivedownstairs, we are guided into this nether region of life and light to look at what we have wrought and ponder our existence.

The Rapture, for those who don't know, is the term Christians use to talk about a secret visitation by Jesus to gather up his saved souls before a period of tribulation and then the official second coming where he brings his army to defeat the antichrist. Finucane has self-deified in this show. This begs the questions: Is she the true Messiah or one of the fake prophets spoken about in the bible; and, are we the saved or are we the easily misled?

Announced by her heavenly choir (Alto, Cattunar, and St Clare) Finucane floats onto the stage in a massive bear coat, feather head dress, and talons almost as long at her arms. Writhing in ecstasy in both pain and pleasure she tells us the story which brought her to her divinity and then spends the next hour and half lifting our souls to join her in exquisite beauty and pain.

The Rapture is the first stage of the end of the world and Finucane sits in the judgement chair. Instead of us having to tell our stories and be judged however, it is Finucane who tells us our stories. Two Great Auks stand on pedestals at the end of the catwalk stage  - a constant reminder of the realities of extinction.

The Auks are integral to the piece and not just augmentation. Finucane tells us of our callous treatment of this regal species - ripping off their best feathers live and then leaving them to die in the cold oceans and throwing them onto the fire live to eat. The Auks became extinct late in the 19th century but they are significant also because they were the instigation for some of the earliest environment protection laws in our society. The ineffectiveness of those laws ring down through time questioning whether we are doing enough. At the end we are reminded of the plight of the Auks when she talks about snails. Will they be gone soon too?

The Rapture is a polemic. Do not expect to go gently into this good night when you see the show. Finucane is there to challenge each of us about our assumptions. She brings a voice to subjecs that are not meant to be spoken about. She talks of things taboo. She talks of things unseen. She talks of things right in front of our face. She gives voice to the muted. Finucane is not a good girl doing what she is told. She is a strong woman speaking out about the things killing our world and our society.

The discussion about extinction does not rest with animals or the environment. Finucane is also speaking to social decay and destruction which comes from blindness and neglect of those who are not, well, straight males to be blunt.

The tale of systemic oppression could not be more illuminating if somewhat literal. Sitting beside that is the visual and sonic portrait of a woman in a bikini by the beach. First we see the photoshopped fairytale but then Finucane looks deeper and we see the truth behind the picture. It is small and dark and painful and it is reality - a reality we don't want to see and one we definitely don't ever want to speak out loud.

Words are dangerous and words which come from women are so much more dangerous. I heard a quote on TV the other day from Once Upon A Time. A character says "There is nothing more dangerous than an untold story". The story of women is the longest untold story in the history of 'man' kind.

Beware The Rapture. Ecstasy is a double edged sword and The Rapture is sitting on the knife edge. It is sublime. It is divine. It is dangerous. Do you dare to hear what this prophet has to say? Can you risk not hearing her? I think not!

4.5 Stars

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