A Jet of Blood
- Eddie Harrison
- 10 August 2018
Brutal account of an abusive relationship, performed as a musical ballet
Referenced by the title here, Antonin Artaud's 1925 play Jet of Blood provides a jumping-off point for Mari Moriarty's violent ballet of sexual degradation; A Jet of Blood details an abusive relationship, and pulls no punches depicting it.
The body of Moriarty's play is an almost wordless ballet between two performers; a female, Alexandra Miyashiro, playing a 14-year-old male, and an older man, played by Matthew Brown. The youngster engages in vigorous acts of sexual activity with the more experienced man, who wears a number of masks ranging from Porky Pig to Spiderman. A series of sexual encounters, often unwilling and occasionally at knife-point are acted out until it's clear that the audience has been witness to a series of rapes.
The discovery that the perpetrator of these rapes goes on to work as a babysitter adds a further moral complexity to the decisions the protagonist faces; much like the female protagonist of David Harrower's Blackbird, a victim has to balance feelings about admitting victimhood against the possibility that by staying silent, they might be complicit in the process of others falling victim to the same man.
A Jet of Blood is not a show for everyone; the uncompromising view of sex plus the bloodletting may thin the audience, but Miyashiro and Brown perform with real dexterity. A coda in which the playwright reflects on the manner in which the material was presented is less successful: by overtly editorialising, some of the original power is dissipated.
Specifically, Moriarty's decision to tell this story through the POV of a male played by a woman may cause some debate; ultimately it's a trick that seems to obscure rather than universalize the experience. But A Jet of Blood has a relevance that goes beyond any pretentions; for those who feel that theatre often ducks gender issues, Moriarty's play is something of a shock to the system.
Z00 Charteris, until 27 Aug (not 15) 2.10pm, £10 (£9).