Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Traverse Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company
Sean Holmes (director), Simon Stephens (writer), Paul Wills (designer), Chris Davey (lighting designer), Emma Laxton (sound designer)
Frances Ashman, Loo Brealey, Sacha Dhawan, Amanda hale, Jeff Rawle, Sheia Reid, Billy Seymour, Sam Spruell
Running time

"There's an awful lot of tech on that set."
First impressions set up expectations which may or may not be disappointed. Pornography is a play in a form the late Osbert Lancaster, had he cartooned theatrical
styles rather than architectural ones, might have described as "Birmingham
fragmented" - a number of story lines concerning one or more characters are
driven toward a central point of encounter in the course of which resolution
occurs. It can be very effective, and offers the audience engagement by
intrigue rather than empathy.

The narrative drive of Pornography is toward
the events of 7th July last year, and involve a number of characters, only one
of whom appears to have any interest in pornography, and that may be academic. Two
characters stumble toward fulfilling sexual fantasies, both seemingly unaware
of the damage their desires may inflict on those they lust after; so far, so Freudian;
only in Pornography, not really.

The leap that needs to be made between
objectification for sexual gratification and objectification of a political and
hence military "enemy" is too far and too vast for the traffic of this play. The
tale of an everyday Jihadist interwoven into the narrative gives no real hint
at motivation; like the other characters, he arrives without background or
backstory, as anonymous as any of his fellow citizens.

The two characters most
tightly drawn and portrayed are a schoolboy fantasising about his teacher and an
elderly academic whose mild obsession with the stuff of the title may be as
recreation or research, but doesn't prevent her take on the world she lives in
being closer to "reality" than that of the thrusting business persons around
her. In the aftermath of the London bombings, she makes the most of the few
sublime moments Pornography has to offer.

Times: 3-16 August, times vary (see Fringe Programme)

Copyright Bill Dunlop August 2008

Published on August 2008