SYDNEY FESTIVAL : RAPTURE @ THE HEADLAND BARANGAROO

This is regarded as one of the major events of the 2021 Sydney Festival and stars multi-award-winning vocalists and performers Paul Capsis (Threepenny Opera, Angela’s Kitchen, Cabaret) and iOTA (Smoke and Mirrors, Graeme Murphy’s Berlin, Hedwig ) in this concert version of a planned upcoming musical. RAPTURE: a song cycle of Desire and Ecstasy,

Murder and Mayhem, where new songs are featured blended with reimagined classics by Megan Washington, Deb Conway and Willy Zygier, Blondie and The Kinks. The work was introduced by host Yumi Stynes.

It is a strange, plotless , somewhat disturbing contemporary allegorical song cycle for what could possibly be the end of the world as we know it , involving themes of ecstasy and desire, exorcism and repression, life and loss, greed, sin and morals, murder and love. Some of the songs have strong language – the work blends borderline blasphemous to love ballads, reflection and analysis almost tearing the soul apart and string quartets.

Paul Capsis and iOTA are magnificent , powerful , and charismatic , blending insidious passion and compulsion. Are they two halves of the same character ? Both wear white face makeup .Capsis in a green suit generally represents the Devil while iOTA in bronzey gold an angel – but does Capsis repent and js iOTA a fallen angel ?( note the feathery fish scales – or serpent scales iOTA wears at one stage ).For iOTA’s character gender is fluid – at one point he is dressed by stage hands in an amazing long pink ruffled dress with train and a glorious headdress and ropes of pearls .In another he wears a golden halo like headpiece as if from an early Renaissance painting.

Lots of kudos to the extraordinary lighting and technical effects by video artist Nick Roux (both projected on the stage floor and a huge screen at the back of the stage) and the glorious, extraordinary costumes by Anna Cordingley. Alongside Capsis and iOTA they should both be nominated for lots of Green Room, Helpmann etc awards.

The wonderful musicians were placed either side of the stage- on guitar and keyboard Isaac Hayward was on one side , on the other violinists Veronique Serret and Stephanie Zarka , with Carl St. Jacques on viola and cellist Jack Ward.

Songs that weren’t pilfered for inclusion in the show ( eg I Go to Sleep, by Ray Davies as sung by iOTA) were often written by Megan Washington in collaboration with musical director Jethro Woodward . Some songs had extravagant arrangements and potent swift changes .iOTA is extremely impressive with his tense performance of Blondie’s Rapture and also his versions of Mercury’s You Take My Breath Away and The Loved Ones’ Sad Dark Eyes for example while Capsis is most dramatic in Time of the Signs and Giving It All Away to name just two .

A strange and challenging work led by two volcanically commanding performances .

RAPTURE was performed at the Sydney Festival stage at Barangaroo 16-17 January 2021.

Running time roughly 80 minutes

https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/search/?q=Rapture