REVIEW: RAPTURE (Etcetera Theatre)

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‘What is the point of you?’ – the question that haunts the characters of this play is one which we can all ask ourselves, if we’re brave enough.

‘Rapture’ is set in the future, not long after 2060, and by now the human race has found the cure for apparently every disease and illness. There’s just one problem with that though – with less people dying, the world is over-populated and the resources are quickly running out.

We learn from the characters that this is a world where benefits have been all but eliminated, Victorian-style workhouses have reappeared, and only the super-rich can afford national grid electricity. And now citizens are being brought to the ‘auditing’ room, where they must justify their existence and persuade the new government that they make a valuable enough contribution to society. Otherwise, they will be “deleted”.

We meet four citizens in total, and the auditor – who guides the citizens through various exercises and questions to establish who deserves to live, and who is taking up too much oxygen. The four citizens have entirely different backgrounds – there’s the drama teacher, the politician, the bingo caller and the celebrity. Each offer up reasons they should be able to live, but eventually also have reasons exposed as to why they perhaps shouldn’t be.

What I loved about this play was the way it cleverly entices you to judge the citizens – and by the end I was even trying to work out how I would choose who should live if it were down to me. Further than that though, it inevitably made me question my own life, as well as human nature itself – pretty deep, all in all! But exceedingly thought-provoking and enjoyable.

Lisa McMullin’s writing is clever and I enjoyed a lot of the black comedy involved. In particular, there were a lot of sadistic quips from the auditor (played by Ryan Kennedy), who seemed to actually be enjoying the process rather than acknowledging the horror of it.

In some ways ‘Rapture’ is a slow-burner, but this is appropriate and I was completely engaged the entire time.

I did feel like some of the discussions had by the characters were surface-level, and could’ve gone even deeper. For example, I felt it was interesting that one of the citizens was a non-offending paedophile, and I think there could’ve been an interesting debate about him and to what extent he should be automatically condemned, if he never acts on his immoral impulses. But I felt overall the characters were well-developed and some interesting arguments and ideas were thrown up. The idea behind ‘Rapture’ in some ways is a very simple one, but it certainly made for an interesting show.

Reviewed by Rachel Callaghan

RAPTURE plays at the Etcetera Theatre until 26 June 2016