Encore Theatre Magazine
:: Sunday, January 16, 2005 ::
I Never Thought I'd Say This
...but I agree with every word of a Michael Billington review. It's of Tim Fountain's witless Sex Addict show, a piece in which he reports back on the person he shagged last night and then gets the audience to vote, from a shortlist of three, on who he shags tonight. The show is utterly without insight - is Tim Fountain really a sex addict? And, if so, who cares since he seems incapable of revealing anything about the pleasures and miseries of anonymous sex, because he seems too dim to understand its dynamics, its politics, and its complexity. Graham Norton does this sort of stuff on TV, though in milder and funnier form. In the 1970s Marina Abramovic offered a performance in which her body was made available to the public's use and abuse using a whole range of props sitting on a table before her. The table included a loaded gun. The performance was disturbing because of what it revealed about the audience's ability to dehumanise her. Tim Fountain has none of that risk, daring, intelligence and care. Hence our agreeing with Billington's powerful rejecting review, which ends:
Who programmed this? What plays have they passed on to programme this crap? The theatre downstairs is dark right now; how could Rickson and Whybrow programme this and turn down Anthony Nielson's The Wonderful World of Dissocia? In any well-managed theatre, someone would have stopped this show.
If I am angered by the show, it is for two reasons. First, it wastes the time, energy and resources of the Royal Court, supposedly a new writing theatre, and deprives a living dramatist of a crucial January slot. Second, at a period when theatre is under attack on all fronts, the show plays into enemy hands by offering a trivial, dumbed-down event that makes Celebrity Big Brother look like Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Fountain tells us: "I love shagging strangers." But that is his business and not ours. By offering him a public space in which to explore his private compulsions, the Royal Court both degrades its own good name and makes the theatre look an infinitely smaller place.
The Royal Court has one of the proudest histories of any theatre in the world. Someone stop the current artistic team before they sully its name for a decade.