They’re bigger than Jesus! They’re the best thing since sliced communion wafers! And they’re spitting beats faster than ‘Eminem’ and I mean Mary Magdalene. They’re The Brothers Rapture! Two catholic priests turned musical superstars and this is their story.
It’s the year 1998 and Fathers Shay O’Dea (Kieren Bullock) and Diarmiud Foley (Corey M. Glamuzina) are in a bind. These two privately foul-mouthed brothers from other mothers (unless that mother is God) are stuck with the impossible task of teaching sex education to teenagers. Teens do wanna fool around but they don’t want to listen to what men of the cloth have to say about it. Then the idea comes to them! They can share their rosary-beads-of-wisdom effectively through the medium of rap!
The duo raps about viral diseases, going viral themselves, and soon they’re on the fast track to stardom! With their mother superior, Sister Riona (Cassandra Hart) calling the shots, the endorsements come rolling in and then it’s a trip to Eurovision for the boys! But as their fame grows, so do their egos, and they begin to stray from the righteous path. Will these priests remember their place or will it be, as some long hair guy once said, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled”.
As a former nice Sunday school boy, a fan of the BBC comedy series ‘Father Ted’, and an admirer of clever lyrics, I was excited for this show. The Melbourne made production features members of The Big Hoo-Haa improv comedy troupe and Cassandra Hart of Ghostlight League, who recently starred in the hit ‘Shakespeare Aliens’.
I always thought the seats downstairs at The Butterfly Club looked like church pews and now we’ve come full circle. As part of the rivalries, we’re provided with a hymn book of songs from the night’s show. We don’t actually need it as the performers and lyrics are clear. Not to mention, the lighting downstairs doesn’t lend itself well to singalongs but the keepsake is greatly appreciated, as we enter this church of hip-hop!
The boys come out with gusto to “Say Hello to The Brothers Rapture”, a high energy number establishing the pace of the show. We flashback to the late 90s and learn the origin story of these holy rollers. The comedic skits aren’t simply here to set up musical cues but to highly entertain in their own right, with a satire of the usual highs and lows presented in musical biopics interspersed between their ‘phat beats’.
The music in this show is written by Matthew Hadgraft and his work is suitably toe tapping, while the lyrics by Glamuzina impressed me to no end, skilfully working wordplay, puns and double entendre into each and every song with rapid-fire success. I was also amazed by just how different so many of the 9 songs throughout the hour-long show were.
Audiences were treated to a variety of different styles all of which worked into the story. Early on we have a religion versus science rap battle debate where the show’s themes of harmony despite our differences are made clear. Later, there is a Eurovision contest parody which I feared would be reminiscent of “My Lovely Horse” (look it up). Rather, “Judge Thyself” is a song about the inability to reach absolute godly perfection but to not beat yourself up for failing. My favourite song though would probably be “Exciting Sex”, a tune which establishes 50 different sexual positions in such impressive speed, it felt like a raunchy version of The Animaniacs.
Throughout the boys’ rise to celibacy celebrity, we’re frequently teased by a musical number from the soft-spoken but stern Sister Riona. Hart’s polite Irish brogue dialogue can sometimes be a little quieter than our two booming gents but she brings the house down where it counts with her musical solo. The songbird dazzles in a sexy and hilariously awkward cabaret number, adding a feminine touch to the biblical sausage party we’ve had so far.
Lighting is provided by Patrick Slee who does a great job assisting this theatre of the mind rags to riches story on the simple stage. In what is effectively a mini musical concert, the stage lights set the mood and pump along with precision throughout the whole show.
The Brothers Rapture is a theatre show as sacrilegious as it is hilarious. While I’m sure the gag will be lost on some curmudgeons, the show never once felt mean spirited towards the church or those of faith. Even within its most vulgar and funny lyrics, the message of togetherness and respect was loud as gospel. The Brothers Rapture is a divinely written and performed musical comedy with a lot of heart and a truly righteous amount of laughter.
The Brothers Rapture is playing in Melbourne at The Butterfly Club from August 10 to 12.
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