Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

10 Jun

Firstly, Why Torture is Wrong, and The People who Love Them is  ‘good’ theatre.

Now a digression:

A while back, standing in a crowded foyer, a friend of a friend shocked me by saying “Bad theatre is like being tortured”.

My heart went out to her.

I felt awful. I had thought she was just another complacent, comfortable, middle-class theatre goer.

But no. Perhaps, I thought, she’s a recovering victim of some deranged sociopath. Or, possibly, she’s an escaped dissident from a brutally repressive regime.

Or most likely, like myself, she was just another complacent comfortable middle class theatre goer who enjoyed indulging in absurdly hyperbolic language simply because her life of unparalleled privilege supplied her with everything she needed – except the occasional jolt of excitement to remind her she was alive.

This might be wild speculation, but I suspect sitting through an hour or so of less-than-engaging theatre bears very little resemblance to having electrodes attached to your genitals.

But if you choose to dumbly divide the entirety of existence into the simple categories of the good and the bad, with everything either on one side or the other of that enormous world-dominating watershed, then I guess torture and ‘bad’ theatre might sit on the same side, the very same side as suffering a terminal illness and having dandruff.

Digression over.

Photographs © Bob Seary

Photographs © Bob Seary

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them is a very funny and fabulously performed satire.

Director Melita Rowston does a fantastic job with Christopher Durang’s script. The performances are joyfully hyperbolic.

Terry Karabelas and Peter Astridge present perfectly pitched in-your-face alpha males.

The female characters are fascinating responses to the male absurdity. Ainslie McGlynn gives us a wonderfully flighty small ‘l’ liberal. Romy Bartz gives us Hildegarde, painfully and hilariously in love with a right wing lunatic. (What’s Sylvia Plath’s line about every woman adoring a fascist?*) And Luella is my comic favourite, played brilliantly by Alice Livingstone. Luella retreats from her domineering husband, and reality in general, through an obsession with theatre. (Yes, lets worry about theatre. There’s nothing else important going on in the world. Like torture.)

And while having terrific fun with these over-the-top characters, the final scene is thought-provoking, and an acknowledgement that satire is not the solution to the great world-dominating watershed between left and right.

It’s a brave move, laying down your greatest weapon, but it’s probably the way forward.

Veronica Kaye

* The line is “Every woman adores a Fascist”.

 

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them By Christopher Durang

at New Theatre til 28 June

http://newtheatre.org.au/

 

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2 Responses to “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them”

  1. lisathatcher June 19, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    Great review – I love that poem so much! I think of my father as “Marble heavy, a bag full of God,” (shiver) and have loved many fascists as a result.
    I enjoyed this production.
    Thanks for a great review.

  2. veronicakaye June 19, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Thanks for reading, Lisa!

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