You can feel the anticipation and excitement in the foyer the second that director Moira Finucane comes out to greet us and let us into the venue at Arts Projects Australia Gallery. Presented by the powerhouse duo of Finucane and Smith, The Destroyer has been reworked and reimagined by writer Jackie Smith various times throughout the numerous lockdowns Melbourne experienced over the last two years. And the wait is definitely worth it.
The Destroyer consists of three monologues from three mythic sisters that explore contrasting thoughts around the end of the world. From fury to hope, vice to virtue and isolation to extinction. Maude Davey opens up the show with "The Destroyer" and she sets the bar for three strong and powerful performances. Davey has a knack of simultaneously being in the moment with her character while connecting with the audience as if she is speaking directly to each individual in the room.
The second monologue - and perhaps the most intriguing one - is that of "St Uncumber", a "brave woman" with a beard from God. Performed by burlesque performer, Jazida, it is just as much a captivating piece of live art and burlesque as it is spoken word. The third and final monologue is an addition to the original development of the show and you are left wondering how The Destroyer could have been made without it. Caroline Lee enraptures the audience in "Good Daughter Martha" with her nuanced performance, expressing strength and vulnerability and rage and fear with every word she utters.
Supporting the stories are Opera singer Piera Dennerstein and Indian dancer Raina Peterson. If any criticism of The Destroyer can be made, it would be the almost criminal act of having someone like Peterson involved and not giving them something more substantial to do. They have such a natural presence on stage and incredible skill as a dancer that it's a shame we don't get to experience it.
While the sombre themes could be quite heavy to take in with the state of the world at the moment, in true Finucane and Smith style, the show ends on a communal high of dancing and joy. And as you head off into the night, you can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, there is still hope.
Venue: Arts Project Australia Gallery, L 1 Collingwood Yards, Collingwood
Season: 10 - 13 March, 7pm, Sun 5pm
Duration: 90 minutes
Tickets: $50, includes Destroyer cocktail
Bookings: The Destroyer
Image Credit: Sarah Walker