Monday 16 September 2019

The Rapture Chapter II: Art VS Extinction - Cabaret Review

What: The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction
When: 4 - 29 September 2019
Where: fortyfivedownstairs
Written by: Moira Finucane
Directed by: Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith
Performed by: Pierra Dennerstein, Ray Dimarrkari Dixon, Moira Finucane, Rachel Lewindon, and Mama Alto
Lighting by: Jenny Hector
Moira Finucane - photo by Jodie Hutchinson
 In 2017 Finucane and Smith told us that The Rapture was here. They beckoned us to look around and act immediately. It is 2019 and we have done nothing at all. The Doomsday Clock is still at 2 minutes to midnight and Moira Finucane is back. In The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction she is telling us there is no more time to waste and she is not wasting any time doing it.

We are back in the ice chapel of 2017 and Finucane enters as the fully annointed Snow Queen regalia after her tour of the Antarctica. What she found there, however, has released an urgency which eschews such frippery and throughout the show she strips away the layers of society, of manners, and of performance because now it is time to speak from the soul. From human to human. Our lives depend upon it.

I said we are running out of time, but Finucane's most important message is that there is still time. There is time for things to get better. There is time for things to get worse. I found myself wishing she could/would do this show in Parliament House in Canberra so that our leaders would finally hear and listen.

There are few niceties in Chapter II. It is dark and it is searing. You know the world is in trouble when Finucane, goddess of love, stands bare chested roaring a warning against waking terrible monsters. Under the biggest glacier in the world there lies deep secrets and lots and lots of bones. In the same way you do not want to wake a vicious dog, a crying baby or an angry man do you really think it is wise to melt this glacier and add 17 meters to the height of our oceans? How many bones will be under water then?

One of the genius elements of Finucane's work is her ability to connect dots and see pictures holistically. Do you really think the rate of death of women in non-warring countries is a coincidence? Do you think the fact that 85% of the Northern Territory is licensed for fracking or under application for such a license is a coincidence? Do you think it is a coincidence the Koala is on the edge of extinction? Do you think it is a coincidence there are only 50 people alive who still speak the language of the Mudburra people?

Finucane has called in the big guns for this exhortation. Having raised her voice as loudly as she can and quoted as many facts and figures as the brain can humanly hold it is time for the land to speak for itself. Yes, the angelic choir of Mama Alto and Dennerstein are still with her, joking and cajoling about the importance of Krill amongst other things but now we need to hear an even older and wiser voice.

To do this, Finucane has brought us Dixon. Dixon teaches us the words nkgurra marla - meaning protector of country, guardian of home - and then sings us this song in language. Nothing reaches into the soul more strongly than hearing First Nations songs sung in language. We don't need to know the words. We can feel the power and authenticity resonating through the sounds.

We need to hear his voice. We need to hear their voice. We need a Makarrata.

In play writing we are told we can't be too expositional because modern audiences don't like being told what to do, what to think. This is just another way to silence voices of concern and dissent. Finucane is a strong woman and in a post truth age she is honoring the movement of truth telling. Ironically, she does wrap up her honest and urgent words in glorious works of art. Costumes, set, music, all of the staging choices are divinity made corporeal.

The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction is terrifying. The horror lies in the truth that the outcomes lie in our very own hands. It is just as  Finucane's choir sings to us - 'The bigger the stone, the deeper the ripple'.

The situation is urgent and time is speeding up. If you do not act now, if you do not vote for 'the better' politician (so what if none of them are actually good?) now, if you do not plant a tree now, if you do not help someone drowning on the karaoke stage now, if you do not explode your love now what can our future possibly be except more bones at the bottom of an ocean floor?

I know there is a lot of theatre to see in Melbourne this month, but you must make time for The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction. You must make time for survival.

4.5 Stars

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