Human Frailties Wrapped up in Fur
Thursday 6 July
Jordan Beth Vincent
Directors Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith understand better than most how to set the mood for a show. Their fingerprints are all over the theatre from the outset; the lights are low, the air is hazy and there’s a slightly shabby, mysterious atmosphere, with sculptures hanging like stalactites from ornate chandeliers.
In a corner, shrouded figures intone pop songs and hymns as a welcoming overture. This is the perfect tableau for Finucane’s performance – her eccentric characters inhabiting this world as though it has grown around them. Through her many theatrical incarnations, Finucane brings us the maiden and the crone, the saint and the sinner, the mother and child, and a spectacular pagan goddess – female icons in this iconoclastic construction.
There are other versions of womanhood woven through the performance, but most touching is the way this work dances across a fine line between the ecstasy of hope and the tragedy of disillusionment.
Although the setting alludes to the biblical, Finucane’s persona is not one to be worshipped, nor feared. The Rapture is at odds with the illusion of worship; Finucane showing herself to be a normal woman with a normal voice, a normal body and normal vulnerabilities, despite her magnificent fur cloaks and feathered headpieces.
Embracing complexity in performance – through dialogue, costume, characterisation and theme – is the reason The Rapture is difficult to pin down. These are the same reasons the work is so interesting and what makes Finucane such an engaging artist.
In the end, we are part of it, and as this show reminds us, being “part of it” also means taking responsibility for shaping the world we inhabit.