Original Director: Caroline Steinbeis
Tour Director: Laurence Cook
Reviewer: Hannah Hiett
RASHDASH is comprised of performers Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland, and producer Charlotte Bennett. They are understandably Fringe favourites – delighting audiences with their own brand of high energy, garishly-coloured dance-theatre that explores big things in a big loud way.
We Want You To Watch is a show about porn. It’s a show about sex, violence and violent sex. It’s a campaign, though we’re never quite sure if anyone’s entirely in earnest or not, to shut down porn completely, in order to start again.
In a series of impossible (but startling and often thrilling) fantasies, Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland take on the porn industry, it’s supporters, it’s addicts and it’s enablers. Oddly, they seem to exclusively tackle consumers of porn, rather than the people who make it, but perhaps they’re not worried so much about the existence of the industry itself, but the effect of the consumption of violent porn on society. Of the effect on how ordinary men behave to ordinary women.
The piece begins in an interrogation room, a porn-addicted milkman is accused of a violent, sexually motivated murder of a young dental student… Goalen and Greenland are a detective duo, dressed to kill, with a snarling, thrusting sexuality that makes their line of interrogation all the more uncomfortable. The opening sets the tone for the rest of the show – a sense of near-hysterical, hyper-comedic moments, clashing with images of horrendous violence and abuse. It’s an unsettling experience. It’s meant to be.
In another scene, the Queen has been kidnapped so the campaigners can throw her a tea party and force her to sign a decree banning porn. Their naivety is charming, and the set-up with union jack bunting and party rings is quite sweet, until the moment when they untie the “Queen” and you see the deep marks cut into the flesh of her ankles from where she was tied to her chair. You can’t forget the violent reality of holding a person against their will, where the illusion of pleasure – of pleasantness – drops away. Even a great dance routine to Beyonce’s Run The World (Girls) and the Queen’s hilarious performance of what real sex ‘feels like’ doesn’t quite do away with the horror of those marks. And that, I suppose is the point.
There is a moment, unfortunately, where the power of suggestion is lost and is replaced by a tedious debate with a “hacker” who Goalen and Greenland ask to shut down the internet. They try to liven it up a bit by making the character of the hacker extremely annoying (imagine The Incredibles’ Edna Mode in an orange jumpsuit with a shrill American accent and no capacity for kindness, and you’re pretty much there) and some forced dancing. But it feels a little bit like when a philosopher or politician writes a novel and it ends up being a long back and forth between two ‘characters’ on a pet subject. An unfortunate case of telling rather than showing that doesn’t quite hold up to the powerfully visceral edge of earlier scenes.
The finale, however, cannot be said to lack anything at all – it’s got too much of everything is spades. It’s a grotesque visual and aural assault of thrusting, writhing shrieking bodies, a bacchanalian orgy of horribly misappropriated images of girldom and sexuality. Rocking horses, bananas, a Disney princess mask, faux fur, bare skin, sweat and things I’ve probably imagined swirled up in terrible garden of earthly delights.
A final sequence that makes you want to go and take a bath. Two baths.
Runs until Friday 23 October 2015