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A CurtainUp London Review
There is the young mother and teacher wrapped up in her baby (Frances Ashman), the brother and sister (Sam Spruell and Kirsty Bushell) who are as close as they can be and Billy Seymour as the unpleasant, obsessive schoolboy whose fantasy passion for his teacher Lisa turns to vindictiveness when he is inevitably rejected. Sheila Reid is delightful as the scatty older woman who is eccentric, quirky and outrageous. Sarah Solemani is the young unemployed graduate linking up with her university lecturer Sam Graham and exploring the past. Anthony Welsh is the young black man whose observation is poetic and beautiful. Early on in the play he causes a deep intake of breath as we realise the journey he is describing so intelligently with its bizarrely diversionary journey from Manchester to London means that he will rendezvous with the others at Kings Cross and photographed together by security cameras, this will be the last image of the 7/7 bombers alive. From this point we are drawn in to thinking that there will be bad endings for our characters but Simon Stephens doesn't opt for anything as easy or prosaic.
Sean Holmes directs on a set full of curly, electrical cables and hanging down vertical tube lighting to illustrate our connectivity and also to allude to the tunnel that the tube trains will travel down. There is that sense of thrill and achievement of the Olympic victory, everyone is talking about it, which of course is spoilt by the news of the bombings. Pornography opened in a German translation in Hanover in 2007 and went to the Traverse for the Edinburgh Festival last year but this is the first time Londoners have had the opportunity to see it.
The performances are involving from Billy Seymour's intense, priggish, blazer clad schoolboy to Sheila Grant's amusing old biddy. Kirsty Bushell has all the intensity of a sister on a sexual adventure with her brother, who is literally stripped naked by the encounter. Her concern when she thinks her brother has been caught up in the disaster is electric.
The title Pornography remains something of a mystery to me but from Webster's we have the secondary definition of, "the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction" and Stephens' play effectively channels the excitement of people discussing both the Olympic planning juxtaposed with the sensational but frightening news of those terrible simultaneous tube and bus bombings the very next day.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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