Prurience

Theatre, Contemporary theatre
3 out of 5 stars
Prurience, Southbank Centre
© James W Norton

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Join a porn support group in this provocative interactive show

‘I don’t like watching fisting – I’m a vet, it reminds me of work.’ This is one of a few funny moments in Christopher Green’s confrontational piece of immersive theatre, which deals with the subject of porn addiction.

Staged in the Royal Festival Hall’s ironically-entitled Blue Room, the format is that of a support group called Prurience. Audience members – all supposedly addicts – are given stickers to write their names on and are corralled into a circle of seats, while Green presides, doing the touchy-feely group leader thing. What becomes swiftly apparent is that there are as many actors as audience members in the group, who deliver a series of confessionals on their grubby habits. It’s grim stuff. One young man says he believes accessing an endless supply of hardcore material since the age of 11 has irreparably damaged his mind (something that neuroscientists are currently learning more about); a middle-aged therapist admits he consumes stuff that, if his patients told him they were watching, he’d report them to the police for. 

What pushes this beyond zeitgeisty navel-gazing, aside from the metafictional games, is that Green levels his critique just as much at therapy itself. He’s clearly suspicious of the facile process of giving oneself an addiction label and paying a self-styled professional to fix it, and, by extension, our identity-fixated, instant-gratification society. He’s to be admired for tackling this painfully taboo subject. That ‘Prurience’ doesn’t cohere into anything with clear conclusions might be its greatest strength – for me, it made for half-complete theatre. But if you’re in two minds about buying a ticket and joining the group, I suggest you do – because if in 2017 you think this might be relevant to you, it probably is. Whether you enjoy a regular fap or not.

By: Matt Breen

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