Monday, June 6, 2011

The Rapture Review

The Rapture

@ Bella Union, Trades Hall

Much like its subject matter The Rapture was a show little conflicted in itself. Frequently hilarious it was essentially a series of sketches about the Church enacted in the context of the end of the world. It’s Melbourne but not as we know it anymore: fortunately Jesus is coming and if we join the Filius Dei Nullius brotherhood there is the potential of salvation; unfortunately with all this business of organised religion our path to existential freedom might be hindered.

Christian Bagin and John Forman bring us a varied cast of clergy and transform very convincingly into character. Tellingly each of them tended to be a little corrupt, a little open to sin and terribly human. These men might have become servants of God but they weren’t about wanking in the wings; exploiting the abandoned or attacking each other with a sacred golden cross.

There was a lot of pantomime to this performance. Audience interaction was compulsory and fortunately on our night we seemed willing to cooperate with the shenanigans. It was quite a clever ploy to incorporate us all into the action. At worst the boys disrupted a first date (with a wedding!) at best they reminded us all of how annoying it is to stand and sit down continuously at certain points during a service. The staging and the space was good and the clever direction by James Pratt was clearly with the space in mind.

Particular favourite sketches included the one where one priest was conversing with a whispering Jesus – who was of course the other priest. Also the little section involving the bread of Christ and the consumption of many crackers was hilarious. Frequently I was breathless with laughter, as was the chap sitting beside me.

Now as someone who loves a bit of comedy and loves panto in all its wondrous glory I thoroughly enjoyed this show: it was a great piece of entertainment! However, in its current form as series of sketches it feels that still evolving and still in development. This is not necessarily a bad thing, one needs performance and audience reaction when working on ideas. I think there are two ways The Rapture could go from this point. The sketches could be incorporated into a mixed-sketch show with other characters or situations. This would be a lot of fun. Or else they could become the basis of a more in depth and fleshed out theatre piece. If this direction is taken there needs to be context, there needs to be narrative and there needs to wider social politics that complement the sharp religious satire. Armageddon is a great opportunity for theatre and times is currently being underutilised in this show.

Pitched in either of these ways The Rapture does have a future. Unlike all the audiences who will be doomed to hell for all eternity, although luckily in this case you will probably not notice as you will be laughing too much!

The Rapture is on this week - tix through Bella Union.

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