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Porno

Sean Graney’s newest play sits squarely in the cow-slices-in-formaldehyde camp of contemporary artistic practice. Porno attempts, above all else, to...

Sean Graney’s newest play sits squarely in the cow-slices-in-formaldehyde camp of contemporary artistic practice. Porno attempts, above all else, to convey a visceral sense of experience to its audience. This isn’t exclusively a matter of simulated anal rape with a knife-blade phallus, though be forewarned. (Spoiler

seems like the wrong word here.) The production’s efforts to break down habitual responses are apparent in the social awkwardness that pervades this porn shoot gone deeply wrong. Stilted pauses, self-conscious giggles and a surveillance camera in the offstage bathroom all send the message: Something real is happening here.

The results are frequently compelling, particularly with the fearless cast that Graney’s assembled. Bolletino’s Jef swaggers and howls with a menacing, ridiculous brio, while Wilson cringes and stammers his way to a sympathetic portrait of an utterly incompetent director. But the play overloads its audience with both sensation and information. Stop for a minute to wonder whether its shaggy-dog premise (Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage as skin flick) is some kind of comment on unrequited passion versus pornography’s unreal plenitude, and you’ve missed the boat on the production’s weird onstage green liquor, the photocopied banknotes, or the lamb gone bad. Graney’s skewed wit is undeniable; David Lynch himself would be jealous of the second act’s opening moments, as the film’s ominous producer appears in a bunny costume. Porno nevertheless seems as much a symptom as a diagnosis of contemporary ills.

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