Monday, 3 July 2017

The Rapture review

Any show created by Moira Finucane is going to be visually arresting and have people in awe by what they have witnessed. Her new show, The Rapture, is no exception as she grapples with the themes of art, extinction and the space in between through a variety of storytelling, live art performances and a whole lot of heart.

Finucane's strong storytelling skills are evident as she has us hanging of her every word. It's a shame however that the sound was not always up to scratch, with moments where we are unable to hear what Finucane is saying. Her recollections of her time in Chile and France are fascinating and linked in well with the performances. "A Sunny Afternoon" is a breathtaking act, and a personal favourite, where Finucane makes a powerful statement about our expectations and idealisation of beauty and women in society. This non-verbal piece is paired with U2’s hit song "With or Without You" and its gradual fierce impact is easily felt throughout the audience.

Joining Finucane on stage is her choir of three highly talented and accomplished performers, counter-tenor diva Mama Alto, chanteuse Clare St Clare and 82-year-old songbird Shirley Cattunar. Draped in stunning silk robes designed by Isaac Lummis, the diversity of voice and appearance that these three share further emphasise the celebration of difference that Finucane champions. 

There are ritual elements present in The Rapture, with guests shedding their perceptions and social standings as they enter the strikingly designed altar. The transformation reaches its climax with the consumption of "The Devotional Loaf" of bread handed to us by Finucane and the drinking of wine throughout the night; suggestive of what Finucane has repeatedly given of herself to us and to the arts community over her decades of performing. While at times it is rightfully confronting, the show is also hopeful and encouraging and you can't help but allow these feelings to envelop your mind, body and soul. The night concludes with a communal dance and celebration as we re-enter society and consider the views and ideas expressed in The Rapture and begin to act on them.

Many artists have collaborated with Finucane in order to bring this show to fruition. The altar is adorned with hanging porcelain icicles with an eye-catchingly painted triptych hanging to the side. The sculptures of two great auks at the foot of the altar, designed by William Eicholtz, are seen as protectors of extinction and symbolic of humans' recklessness and disregard for the destruction they create. Of Finucane's array of costumes, her 12 metre long silk iceberg gown by Anastasia Le Fey that is paired with "The Breastplate of Hope" by Kate Durham are simply gorgeous to look at and one could easily lose themselves admiring the intricate and detailed design of these two items.

While usually performing with an ensemble, The Rapture has allowed Finucane to open herself up in a way that is not possible when sharing the stage. Her performance is more honest (sometimes brutally), evocative and inspiring than it has ever been before as she exposes her fears, frustrations, hopes and joys. Moira Finucane is considered a national treasure in Australia and this sublime show perfectly explains why. The Rapture is here, there's no denying it. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
 
Season: Until 16 July | Wed- Fri 7pm, Sat 7pm and 9:30pm, Sun 5:30pm
 
Tickets: $25 – $98 

Bookings: fortyfive downstairs

Photo credit: Paul Dunne

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