The Theatreguide.London Review
Want You To Watch
National Theatre Temporary Theatre Summer 2015
In this new work by Alice Birch and the team called RashDash, two women are very offended by pornography. And that is just about all that I am certain of.
What the creators think about pornography, what they think about the two characters, and how the very diverse pieces of the script and production fit together are not at all clear.
There is a lot of energy in the performances, and flashes of invention in Caroline Steinbeis's staging. But coherence and communication are not the script or production's strong suit.
The two women first appear as cops interrogating a suspect in a particularly gruesome murder, their case against him consisting entirely of the fact that he is known to watch a lot of violent and misogynist pornography.
Their catalogue of titles is shocking enough, but when he calmly points out that lots of normal people watch porn and don't become axe murderers, they physically crumble.
A scene later they've somehow kidnapped the Queen and want her to sign a law against porn. When she asks them to define pornography they can't, even though they attempt to describe its emotional effects through mime and dance (Don't ask). Her Majesty then tops them by miming and dancing the emotional power of sex (Please don't ask).
There are a couple more scenes in which they make the case against pornography and then undermine themselves through excess or inadequacy, leaving us repeatedly unsure what argument is being posited for or against what.
Meanwhile, the stage is filled with soup cans, evidently an allusion to Andy Warhol, though the relevance is not clear. And the scenes are separated by dance sequences ranging from sweet to comic, again with no clear connection to what comes before or after.
The 75-minute show ends with an extended free-for-all as the cast of 7 take the stage each doing their own thing – dancing, running about, posing – with no reference to each other.
It resembles nothing so much as a 1960s 'Happening', and few things seem as sadly dated and irrelevant as a 50-year-old artistic fad.
We Want You To Watch has something to say about pornography and maybe about other things as well. It would be nice if they let us know what it is.
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