Saturday 31 July 2021

THE RAPTURE Art vs Extinction: THE BATHTUB EDITION - Performance Review

WHAT: The Rapture (Art vs Extinction) - The Bathtub Edition
WHEN: 22 July - 5 August 2021
WRITTEN BY: Moira Finucane
COMPOSED BY: Rachel Lewindon
PERFORMED BY: Moira Finucane and Rachel Lewindon
Rachel Lewindon

It seems so fitting that my return to reviewing should feature the latest iteration of Finucane and Smith's The Rapture: Art vs Extinction. This time around it is The Bathtub Edition. Performed live over Zoom, Moira Finucane takes us back to Antarctica and the extinct Auks, exploring synergies with our current global dilemma - pandemic. 

Many live performance artists have resisted embracing remote, digital performance and for good reason. Zoom seems to be the best platform for this application but we are all subject to the vagaries of internet failures and data compression. On the other hand, how many times have actors dropped lines, forgotten props or had costume malfunctions? The show must go on and The Bathtub Edition shows us why.

Nobody thought the pandemic would be a forever thing when it first exploded across the world, but wishy washy politicians and people refusing to stand up (or shut up) for public good means we will never see a world without it. Political point scoring and the modern values of economies over people have dug us deeper into a hole and in Australia that hole has literally manifested into lockdown after lockdown after lockdown.

The Bathtub Edition is not just a restaging of The Rapture or The Rapture II. Finucane and Smith never do repeats although their shows stay in the repertoire for years and years and years. Instead their story telling responds to time and change. Adapting and surviving in a way the Auks were never given the opportunity to do.

The Bathtub Edition begins with a version of the very first monologue of the very first show as Finucane invites us into her room and we are endowed as her people. No... this is not true. The Bathtub Edition begins earlier in the day when Hope & Gin packs are delivered.

This package of indulgence lets us begin a rapturous ritual before entering her salon. It was delightful to get home from work and wash away the day with Hope Soap and then mix a potent blend of Blood Bath Gin complete with decadent and indulgent pomegranate. There is more but I don't want to ruin the surprise ;)

So, as I said before, we begin with the original introduction to the show as Finucane brings us from her front door to her bathroom. Her narrative continues as she immerses herself in rippling water, only her face showing. It is surprising how powerful and evocative this is as she talks about penguins and auks and the first wildlife protection legislation. "I stood where the melting was most dramatic..."

Her segue to our current situation is clever and she talks about a new kind of extinction event - pandemic. The most terrifying moment is when she points to the fact that pandemic has been a factor in 1822, 1922, and now 2022. Referencing the German film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, which in turn references Dracula, the fear of disease is subtextually amplified by the medium of Zoom and the restrictions we live under to control COVID 19. "You cannot lock history in a room. If you do it will look back at you."

Finucane speaks to social media and the strawman argument of freedom of speech. She cries out that she misses us, she misses Melbourne, she misses glaciers and bemoans the ripples of small cruelties having epic consequences. This is the Catch 22 of an elimination policy in a pandemic.

Do not fear, but be very afraid. "The Angels are coming!" Interspersed with Rachel Lewindon's epic and enveloping compositions played live and with virtuosic talent , Finucane explores the bitter sweetness of penguin parenting - words which resonate as we sip our bitter gin and crunch on the heavenly sweetness of a pomegranate seed... 

Decrying a Melbourne drowning in plague and propoganda, and politicians looking for who to blame, Finucane brings hope and invites us all to participate in a penguin parade. Every penguin on parade equals a tree she will give back to our planet.

This is the true magic and gift of The Rapture series. Finucane and Smith are not just about performance, and they do not rest with just putting ideas out in the world. Their true goal is metanoia and everything they produce is an invitation to join them in making real change in the world. It can be as small as making a penguin which will ignite new life or it may be writing to a politician to speak to change. It may even result in opening hearts and doors to difference.

Finucane and Smith are about helping us to find our own journey towards creating change we want to see and they have found a way to do this which is glamourous and exciting and sexy, but which hides nothing. Their shows are bitter and sweet just like Blood Bath Gin. They intoxicate and they enliven the senses. The Bathtub Edition sits proudly in this heritage. Join them and let them cleanse and indulge your soul as they invite you to cleanse and indulge your body.

3.5 Stars

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