An adaptation of Shakespeare’s narrative poem “The rape of Lucrece” by Binge Culture Collective. It’s a visual+audio installation at the Toi Poneke Gallery plus a live performance on Thursday and Friday evenings.  Fiona McNamara’s director’s note states “This production of Shakespeare’s poem claims the text, written by a man in a patriarchal society, as a woman’s story and investigates what happens to performance and to an audience when the female body is present and the male body is absent.

The performance concentrates on the rape section of the poem. (Ending it at this point feels like the story is incomplete. Funding for the next rounds please Creative New Zealand.) The two female performers, Ally Garrett and Isobel MacKinnon, share the text of the poem between them. They are narrator and character both.  The audience sits around them as they perform, so as we watch the performers we also watch each other.

It’s taken me a while to figure out how I felt about this work. Is it possible to like a work that is based around a despicable act? The lushness and celebratory vibe of the videos, contrasts with the rape ‘jokes’ played via a seashell. The text is menacing and the performance is gentle.  (Initially I thought it was underplayed but now I think it was very cleverly done. It allows the audience to feel Lucrece’s horror and disbelief. )  The staging and performances were supported by a soundscape that was well crafted. (The chatter of people, the tweeting of birds, the sound of water, tinny voices from headphones, a mixture of natural and electronically enhanced voice. Nice work team.)

The question posed in the director’s note was answered on opening night during a lively discussion. What happens is this: 1. the audience want to see the male/female dynamic as performed by two women further subverted; 2. the audience acknowledges the absent element (rape happens to men as well); 3. the audience willingly responds to the invitation to discuss by not wanting it to stop.

Take a friend then go out to dinner.

Lucrece: An Adaptation of Shakespeare’s the Rape of Lucrece
Toi Poneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.
Exhibition: on until Saturday 12 May 2012, 10am-8pm weekdays, 10am – 4pm weekends
Live Performances: Thursday and Friday evenings, 4, 10, 11 May, 6:30pm
Entry by koha. Bookings: