Filthy Talk for Troubled Times
Early Neil LaBute script lives up to its title
This article is from 2015.
Neil LaBute has a reputation for macho scripts: this – an early piece that roves around the club scene of 1990s America, here directed by Hollywood star Matthew Lillard – does nothing to dispel that perception. In what would become his distinctive style, LaBute has his characters address each other and the audience in a series of monologues and dialogues which act as dispatches from the sex war. Both men and women complain about the lack of intimacy – although the males are far more rapacious and lecherous.
The decision to set the action in a strip-club undermines the intensity of the monologues: the women are dressed in sexually revealing outfits, but few of their speeches suggest that they work as strippers. This costume choice feels exploitative, making the women sexual objects – something implied by LaBute, but taken further by the suspenders and transparent bras.
The ugliness of the attitudes displayed, however, are expressed without judgement. It is a bleak vision of the world, and a sharp contrast to the increasingly sympathetic and intimate stories of contemporary theatre. This aggression, and refusal to bow to pieties is what makes LaBute so vital and bracing. And despite being set in the 1990s, this version retains a contemporary resonance.
Basic Mountain, 226 0000, until 31 Aug (not 25, 27), various times, £10-£13 (£8-£10).