Vanishing Point investigation into dark erotic fantasies and internet porn is a huge disappointment
This article is from 2012.
Vanishing Point's latest production finds the Glasgow-based theatre company in combative form, delving into internet pornography's seedy demi-monde and confronting audiences with their own desire for erotic titillation. Despite some stylish moments, however, the company's conclusions are largely trite and, ultimately, the piece is disappointingly unengaging.
The most serious problem is a lack of characterisation. Paul Thomas Hickey's John, an ordinary husband and father with a growing compulsion for increasingly depraved porn, is only portrayed in snapshot, making any emotional identification virtually impossible. Adult film actress Alice (Jenny Hulse), when not in character as the brutalised Heidi, is either in a state of agitation or presenting an emotionless facade. The extreme nature of John's sexual fantasies invites comparison with the way violence against women is portrayed in mainstream culture. But because these fantasies are depicted using the iconography of horror movies (including close-ups on terrified faces projected onto the big screen) they seem, perversely, quite safe and unthreatening.
Matthew Lenton's production is admittedly visually striking, with the company's characteristic technique of placing elements of the action behind a transparent screen used to explore the fine line between legitimate entertainment and unhealthy voyeurism. There's also a spot-on pastiche of a one-to-one webcam chat that is by turns grotesquely funny and pathetic. Currently, though, the piece feels slight, a disjointed collage of images and half-explored ideas whose lack of a heart or any dramatic structure is more likely to alienate than enlighten.
Royal Lyceum, 473 2000,until 1 Sep, £10-£30, then touring.