LUU Theatre Group takes another big dive into the deep end with their most recent production. Pornography is the work of winning English Playwright Simon Stephens, who like Sarah Kane, is part of the in-yer-face generation of writers. The play certainly delivers on its promise with a deluge of shocking material that leaves the audience lost for words.
In lieu of an ordinary stage and seating set up, two rows of chairs faced a central floor performance space, involving the audience in the action as voyeurs. The set was simple, but well devised from painted cardboard and boxes. It was fluid and movable; one moment we were in a starkly lit classroom with delinquent schoolboy Jack Harrison, the next we are plunged into total darkness, flashing torches and an ominous rumble signalling the fact we have descended into the tunnels of the London Underground.
The performance is comprised series of deeply disquieting monologues
The performance is comprised series of deeply disquieting monologues; a schoolboy from a troubled home with a sinister predilection for his teacher, a hysterical new mother, a old biddy with a soft spot for internet smut and a fervent man with backpack on his way into the center the tube. Cigarette burns, unfulfilled desires and regrets, these are the things dreams are made of in the dark terrain of Pornography. Private lives and preoccupations interweave with public concerns as each monologue marries 2005’s biggest moments: the announcement of the London 2012 Olympics and the 7/7 bombings. Throughout the play the sense of tension is palpable, resulting in a number of smaller emotional explosions that act as precursors to the last and final climax.
The play was interspersed with moments of dialogue, and, even of comic relief. Richard Priestley and Victoria Burgess should be given a special mention for their performances, arguably the highlight of the show. Their’s was an astute and funny portrait of the power dynamic between two academics in decline.
Tuey Critchfield and Matthew Seager delivered the only other dialogue, in their roles as two siblings breaking the oldest taboo by indulging in an illicit relationship. This scene was extremely difficult to watch and seemed to continue indefinitely. Whether or not it was intended the overall performance seemed at times to loose its impetus and flow. Too much was given, and at the same time, not enough was held back. In order to retain a little more impact, moments of tension could have been counterbalanced by more measured delivery of lines. However, for an amateur performance this was a commendable and creative re-envisioning of a difficult, challenging play.