PHOEBE LUCKHURST isn’t a monologue fan, but still gets some kicks from Pornography.
ADC Theatre, 26th -29th January, 11pm, £4-6.
Directed by Nikki Moss
At first I thought Pornography was no more than a tangle of non-sequiturs; albeit poetic and well-directed non-sequiturs. However, as I reflected this morning whilst ignoring a more pressing essay, this was how Pornography succeeded in representing the agitated, febrile atmosphere of the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. But be warned: a taste for monologue is pre-requisite for enjoying this week’s lateshow.
If non-sequitur punctuates my own prose, I apologise. I admit, at times I worried that I was missing the elusive ‘point’. The dance sequence at the opening of the play was well-choreographed, but I didn’t particularly understand the creative impulse to put it there. The economic staging – chairs, tables, a tube map, posters for Live 8 and London 2012 – was stylish and placed the play in context. Characters waiting to perform sat motionless on chairs at the rear of the stage, which meant that the action moved quickly despite the monologic structure.
The dialogue was taut: in one sequence, during which two characters speak the same lines at the same time, I kept waiting for one to betray the simultaneity, but my inexplicable schadenfreude was disappointed and I was left slightly abashed. They achieved perfect unison in their speech, and this is just one example of the meticulous direction of the play. There was a lot of choreography using chairs and tables: again, this was smooth and well-executed. If there was a point, I started to realise I didn’t really care: Pornography was suitably intriguing and stylish to repudiate any need for the unified theme so beloved of A-Level English classes.
‘Febrile’ recurs as Pornography‘s most accurate descriptor; and as 7/7 ‘happened’ I was chilled. Actors sped across the stage, edging around each other in that depersonalised manner in which people scatter through tube stations. The closing skit, a series of recorded voices counting to 52 (7/7’s death toll – excluding suicide bombers) played over another choreographic sequence was a sombre end. The play managed to approach the enormity of the event in a way which I had assumed – perhaps unfairly – would be beyond its reach.
I feel it was the play’s harrowing substance, rather than the script itself that I particularly enjoyed; however Pornography was excellently directed and managed to avoid trivialising an undeniably difficult event to represent artistically. Do stay away if you despise monologues, but if not, Pornography is a tense and stylish Week One offering.