Theatre review: We Want You To Watch

Bettrys Jones cannot save this facile exploration of pornography
NT Temporary Theatre | ★★☆☆☆

We need to talk about pornography. Since the internet allowed it to profligate, it has become as instantly accessible as television. Acts of reprehensible violence, criminal outside the medium, are available for easy consumption. In We Want You To Watch, dance-performance duo RashDash and playwright Alice Birch have collaborated to hurl a broadside against this pornographic landslide. Unfortunately, it falls wide of the mark.

Pig and Sissy – played by RashDash artistic directors Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen – are on a mission to eradicate porn for good, “so we can begin again”. After playing a bad cop/bad cop routine as inspectors linking browser history to crime, they kidnap the Queen, attempt to re-educate a schoolboy and generally abase themselves. Breaking up these sketches are some abrasive dance interludes.

The trouble begins with Birch’s script, which reiterates instead of advances. Whenever there is a sliver of dialogue that offers to explore the issue’s complexity, we immediately return to square one. At the end, when our protagonists admit the futility of their quest, it feels like we have reached the point at which the play should begin.

Although RashDash’s movement is impressive, scenes such as one in which Queen Liz joins them dancing to Beyoncé are trite and overlong. It’s all rather slapdash, a sense compounded by Caroline Steinbeis’ cluttered direction.

Greenland and Goalen are a likable double act, but this exploration of pornography lacks both passion and penetration.

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