Forget the controversy, Pornography is superb

PUBLISHED: 12:05 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:22 07 September 2010

Against the backdrop of the July 7 bombings, Live 8 and the success of the Olympic bid, a collection of separate lives in the city of London unfolds on stage. These individual realities are odd and disconnected. The audience look on as each person seems p

Against the backdrop of the July 7 bombings, Live 8 and the success of the Olympic bid, a collection of separate lives in the city of London unfolds on stage. These individual realities are odd and disconnected. The audience look on as each person seems powerless to resist their own self-destructive tendencies.

A lonely old woman is deliberate in her avoidance of interaction, a brother and sister no longer resist becoming lovers, a working mum continues to allow herself to be treated like a doormat, a schoolboy becomes abusive to the teacher on whom he has a crush...

Closing in on all their lives is an Islamist suicide bomber. With stealth he makes his way towards London's King's Cross station, diligently ignoring his counterparts and calm in his intent to commit mass murder.

Sound bites - of Madonna at Live 8 telling the audience they are part of a revolution and cheers marking the winning of the Olympic bid - depict major national events that seem to do little to move the Londoners.

The play hints at our passivity as a society - the girl in the chemist not questioning why a young man (the bomber) would purchase large quantities of peroxide and nail-polish remover. The bomber seems to be the only character with any real sense of purpose or direction - purging Britain of its sinners.

His actions, however, appear to act as a catalyst, creating an unspoken shift within the other characters. And that's what makes this play so interesting to watch.

Pornography is more an observation of contemporary city life than a comment on the circumstances surrounding the 7/7 bombings.

Simon Stephens' writing is superb: the stories are engaging, the dialogue natural and funny, and the acting and direction flawless. Paul Wills' Tube-carriage style set, which heightens the sense of anonymity and alienation of the city dwellers, contributes to making this a play very much worth seeing.

Until August 29

Jo Cooke

Pornography

Tricycle Theatre

Five stars


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