Pornography (4 stars)

This article is from 2008


Tales of ordinary terrorism

We hear a lot about the banality of evil, but what of the evil of banality? In Simon Stephens' new play the build up of the everyday detritus of contemporary mass culture, from coffee brands to the disposable, detached sexuality of pornography, is insidious.

In the three days leading up to the 7/7 bombings, we encounter a schoolboy with a tendency for stalking and neo-Nazism, a foul-mouthed retired academic who has learned to enjoy her loneliness, two siblings exploring their incestuous desires and a surprisingly likeable suicide bomber.

In Sean Holmes' spare and direct production, this is ultimately less a play about terrorism than human alienation in the city, with London as the morally ambivalent star. There is a gorgeous moment where a profoundly disaffected old lady knocks on the door of a stranger to ask for some of the barbequed chicken she smells from his garden. She is rewarded, and somehow a moment of optimism amid despair occurs on this bare stage, filled by Stephens' language with a myriad of consumer objects, from pop music to the Metro.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 24 Aug (not 11), times vary, £16–£18 (£11–£12).


  • 4 stars

Simon Stephens' play, set just before the 7/7 bombings, explores urban alienation with a beautiful blend of optimism and despair.'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe'.

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