"PORNOGRAPHY" (Steep Theatre): Thought-Provoking Porn!

"PORNOGRAPHY" (Steep Theatre):  Thought-Provoking Porn!

What can I say about porn?  Sometimes, it’s an artistic expression capturing the naked human spirit.  Other times, it’s visual stimulation created to initiate a primal reaction.  All the time, it’s subject to interpretation. Steep Theatre presents the Midwest Premiere of PORNOGRAPHY.  It’s London, July 2005. A recent announcement confirmed the 2012 Olympics would be hosted in the UK’s capital.  As the locals react to the news of the day, terrorists plot the multiple bombings of The Underground subway system. With the fatalities of 52 commuters and the injuries of 700+ yet unrealized, PORNOGRAPHY provides a retrospective looking back and inside of six personal stories.  A terrorist syncing up the plot.  An employee angry with her boss.  A student stalking his teacher.  A sister and brother acting out a fantasy.  A guy flirting with his professor for a job.  An old woman with a porn fetish going out for chicken. Regardless of the bombings, the people in these six scenarios are changed forever by one action.  PORNOGRAPHY bares the dirty secrets of everyday people.

Spoiler alert:  this show contains no nudity!  It’s naked truth instead of naked bodies.  Upon arrival, the set is pretty stark.  There are different sized white platforms on the ground and multiple television screens suspended from the ceiling.  Pre-show, the screens are projecting personal snippets of individuals’ lives.  (From bombing victims?  I’m guessing!)  Later, the screens count down the sequence of monologues and dialogues starting from ‘seven.’ In between the numerical announcements, Video Designer Mike Tutaj has created a montage of historic bombing footage coupled with artistic imagery. The thought-provoking visual aids the performing art-like spectacle. It sure looks stimulating but how does it sound? Like many of its counterparts, this PORNOGRAPHY doesn’t have a tight storyline.  But of course, porn isn’t known for its plot points. It recruits the talent and hopes the audience wants to watch them bare it all.

Steep has certainly recruited the talent!  Veteran steep folk and rookies provide poignant oration.  Three of the six character studies are straight monologues.  The other three are dialogues with another person.  Playwright Simon Stephens has created intriguing characters.  They start out pretty normal and get twisted really, really - slow!  Especially in the monologues, the pace is leisurely getting to the point.  By the time the juicy stuff is revealed, the first part is forgotten.  Despite best efforts by a splendidly ordinary Kendra Thulin, a deliciously double-talking Rudy Galvan, and uber-creepy John Taflan, the monologues are long-winded.  (There is a reason why audio porn hasn’t caught on!) The other half of the cast has it easier interacting with a designated partner.    (Best porn moments often involve more than one person!)  The dialoguing ensemble members are riveting with uncomfortable sexual tension.  A standout, Maggie Cain closes the show with a hysterical portrayal of a lonely old lady.

As far as PORNOGRAPHY goes, I’m not a hard-core fan but I can see the value in experiencing it for yourself.  For me, this PORNOGRAPHY didn’t provide instant gratification but it has me continuing to ponder what went on behind closed doors in July 2005.

A newcomer to Steep Theatre, Jen describes it with ‘powerful cast & set.’

Running Time:  One hour and forty-five minutes includes no intermission and a ten-minute delayed start

At 1115 W. Berwyn

Written by Simon Stephens

Directed by Robin Witt

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Thru September 17th

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