Tuesday 3 February 2004

XXX, by La Fura Dels Baus, Feb 3, 2004

XXX by La Fura Dels Baus 
adapted from Philosophy in the Boudoir 
by the Marquis de Sade
 Comedy Theatre, From Feb 3 to Sun Feb 15, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There was a hoo ha  when America  saw Janet Jackson's breast this week. They should cop a look at XXX!

XXX is just that - triple X rated. Well, here it manages an R rating because people's naughty bits are obscured on video.

How does one explain this show? It is a meeting of a live sex show, Quentin Tarantino movie and Playschool. They even have a food fight.

The four performers are compelling. Directors, Alex Elle  and Carlos Padrissa allow no boundaries, either emotional or phsycial.

They use contemporary technology, web cams, live video feeds inter-cut with pre-recorded scenes to confuse and horrify us. (Franc Aleu, Emmanuel Carlier)

The music (Mike Espuma & Big Toxic) is atmospheric and the design (Roland Olbeter) simple but effective.

 The flimsy narrative is about Eugenia,  a teenage girl, (Sonia Segura) who arrives at a casting session only to discover it is a clandestine hard pornography set run by three weirdo S and M  freaks.

Sonia is seduced, titillated, abused, raped and taught the niceties  of the Marquis de Sade's  views on pleasure and pain.

XXX is based on de Sade's Philosophy of the Boudoir written in 1795.  His words are projected or spoken throughout. If we are truly liberated we will love abuse and abusing. Criminal acts will be acceptable.

Poor little hypocrites we are, living our normal little lives.

Sonia is so taken with Madame Lula, (Teresa Vallejo) Giovanni (Damia Plensa) and Dolmance (Jorje Flores Dr Flo) that she returns for more. And more there is.

XXX depicts grotesque, violent, aberrant and abhorrent sexual acts. The intention is to portray pornography in a cynical and critical way. However, the product is often just indulgent, pretentious and almost adolescent in its attempt to titillate and shock an audience.

What is interesting is that at no time is it erotic or even sensual. There is nothing sexy about the sex.

Of course, each time an on-screen woman did something sexual to a man, the bloke behind me made loud yobbo comments.

The women are disembodied, made into commodities. The men get off lightly, as one male audience member shouted.

The sex is aggressive and angry. The abuse offensive, particularly the final scenes when Sonia' mother is hauled in to be violated in ways reminiscent of war zone rape camps. Without any political framework it is simply hard core porn.

Having seen the other two La Fura shows in Adelaide and Sydney, I was delighted that during XXX, I was not spattered with blood or run over by machine.

These shows always bring out the look-at-me audience. One leather-clad man was attached to a woman by dog leash.

Funnily, the show-offs were all silent and invisible when volunteers were called to make comments, go on stage or to take their clothes off in the auditorium.

By Kate Herbert