4/5 Stars

Pornography at the Bridewell Theatre – 4 Stars

A play about the 7/7 bombings shouldn’t be synonymous with pornography, and yet this play provides an explicit window into the world of Londoners that, whilst not titillating, is engrossing.

pornography 2

We meet a series of characters that are seemingly unconnected, starting with a working mother [Bex Parker-Smith] whose sense of isolation leaves her feeling unconnected to her new-born, her husband and her work. This feeling grows into a complex tangle of anger, paranoia and self-loathing that eventually builds to an act of self-sabotage; an act that is destructive and yet tinged with a dark comedy that is typical of the playwright, Simon Stephens.

Pornography 1

This first scene establishes the themes for the rest of the play. We meet a cast of lonely characters, whose isolation leads them to destructive acts: a teacher makes a move on an ex-pupil; two siblings embark on an incestuous relationship; a disillusioned youth focuses his fury and frustration on his teacher. Stephens makes it clear that there is something rotten in the state of London, but is this the reason for the 7/7 bombings? Does an atomised society weaken the structures of a country, which in turn allows acts of terror to take place? Or worse is Simon Stephens suggesting that the British public, and not the suicide bombers, are the monsters who caused- or perhaps deserved the events of July 2005?

Whatever your take on the message behind this play, the SEDOS cast give an absorbing and deeply affecting performance. With minimalist staging, the actors are allowed to give full power to the words of the script and, despite the variety of characters on stage, there seems to be a unifying quality in the voice of the cast; something akin to the “awe and horror” that the character of the Elderly Lady speaks of. This is an unsettling play and makes for uncomfortable viewing, but SEDOS successfully harness the power of Stephens words and present a slick, stylised piece that stays with you long after leaving the theatre.

Charlotte Pegram

Cast
Teacher – Paul Caira
Student – Sarah Ratner
Sibling – Alex Woolley
Sibling – Minnie Walker
Elderly Lady – Liz Stevens
Bomber – Dewaine Barrett
Working Mum – Bex Parker-Smith
Jason – Alex Marlow

Director: Chris Davis
Producer: Madhia Hussain
Assistant director: Alastair Norton

Pornography, by Simon Stephens

Categories: 4/5 Stars, review

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