Monday 9 September 2019

The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction review

Once upon a time, an Ice Queen lived in a cave covered in long hanging icicles and haunting ghost nets. Her tale is one that captivates the entire room and so begins Finucane & Smith's follow up to the smashing success of The Rapture and its exploration of art, culture, life and extinction, The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction. 

Finucane is an expert storyteller, seamlessly merging fairy tale, pop culture and brutal truths into her stories, which incorporates her recent trip she took to Antarctica. Her transformation from one persona to another is incredible to watch as she raises issues around fracking, animal extinction and rising sea levels that come straight from her heart. These stories are shared to motivate us to work together to ensure the planet is not worse off than how we found it.

Building on the idea of being part of a much larger community, Finucane includes the skills of a creative collective from various fields to assist in bringing this production to life. Rachel Lewindon, Shinjuku Thief and Adam Hunt present a unified approach to their score, music and composition. At one point, evocative animal sounds are accompanied by Lewindon's atmospheric piano playing, which develop into a strong aural pairing to Finucane's words. Mudburra artist Ray Dimarrkari Dixon performs several songs in his native language, one that only 50 people currently speak, a stark reminder of how much loss is currently being experienced in the world.

The costume designs - particularly the Ice Queen outfit - range from ethereal and fragile to powerful and commanding, each one fitting perfectly with each act from Finucane and her choir. Art adorns the altar like stage on the ground, on the walls and on the ceilings. The most captivating though are the sculptures of two great auks at the foot of the altar. Designed by William Eicholtz, they are protectors of extinction and symbolic of humans' recklessness and disregard for the destruction they create. 

Unfortunately, the second half of the show loses the sense of urgency that Finucane so passionately expresses in her work. The opening number runs longer that it should and needs an edit to ensure its potency is felt. While the talents of her Glacier Choir, Mama Alto and opera singer Piera Dennerstein, cannot be argued, the combination of their music styles are not as harmonious as one would expect when taking the lead in a song or a performance.

The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction might not have a fairy tale ending or leave an impact as strong as its predecessor, but Finucane's heart remains bigger than Antarctica in highlighting how art can change the world. More importantly, Finucane vehemently encourages us to realise that we have the potential to change the world, and while it might seem overwhelming, together we can take on the challenge.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 29 September | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5:30pm
Tickets: $25 – $98
Bookings: fortyfive downstairs 

Photo credit: Jodie Hutchinson

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