Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 24 February 2013
Pornography, Feb 23, 2013 **1/2
Stephens Green Street Theatre Beckett
Theatre, Malthouse, until March 3, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **1/2 Review in Herald Sun online on Sunday Feb 24 and in print after Feb 25. KH
challenging play, Pornography, does not refer to sexual pornography but to the
horrors of modern life: crime, violence, social isolation and dysfunction, and
the pervasive threat of terrorism.
This episodic play is set
against the backdrop of London during a week in July 2005 when several momentous
events occurred:the G8 Summit,
the announcement of the London Olympics, the Live 8 Concert, and the horrific
London bombings of July 7.
David Myles’ production
cannot compete with the original, superb version by Deutsches Schauspielhaus,
Hamburg, but it captures some of the intimate drama and turmoil in the lives of
eight people touched by the bombings.
The characters, whose
lives intersect superficially, appear in monologues and dialogues, but some are
more successful because of the unevenness of the acting.
Emma Chelsey is compelling
as the stroppy, troubled teen that stalks her teacher, gets into street fights
and loathes everyone and everything.
Jesse Velik is strangely
the most moving character, despite playing a train bomber, a sensitive,
well-spoken, young father who is addled but passionate about his campaign of
Frances Hutson finds some
comedy and a sense of injustice in the 82-year woman who, unaware of the
bombings, is unable to get a train and trudges through the abandoned streets of
The reunion of a
separated brother (Justin Hosking) and sister (Sonya Suares) challenges the
audience with issues of incest, but it loses impact because of frequent
blackouts between scenes.
Other characters include
a young teacher (Hannah Greenwood) who visits her former Literature Professor
(Richard Neal) to ask for assistance in getting a lecturing job, but the dinner
turns into a sad, failed seduction.
Imat Akelo-Opio is
miscast as the disillusioned, young executive, performing her with a
persistently shrill tone and inaccurate accent.
Actors moving across the
stage during others’ scenes do not illuminate the stories and often distract
because of the creaky stage floor.
The complex staging and
design of the Hamburg production is replaced with six screens showing digital
imagery (Marshall White) that provide transitions between characters that are
sometimes affecting but often intrusive.
With such a sensitive
issue as the bombings at its core, it is no wonder that a German theatre
commissioned Pornography but English companies rejected it.