Theatre Review: We Want You To Watch

INFAMOUS for their risqué boundary-pushing theatre, RashDash come to The West Yorkshire Playhouse with their new play where Leo Owen caught the show

Immediately RashDash make their audience complicit in the interrogation of a filthy-faced man in a boiler suit. Two girls with mirrored hairstyles and monotone outfits doggedly question a suspect after a girl has been sexually assaulted and killed. In front of a screen print of a lip-sticked screaming mouth, the girls repeatedly demand: “If you didn’t do it, who did?” The stage is bare otherwise with the exception of a scaffold platform and tin cans labelled “sex” stacked across the stage, emphasising their single-mindedness to find the answers they seek.

Speaking in unison directly into a microphone they record exchanges with the suspect, unrelentingly spewing out a barrage of harsh repetitive questions, revealing they have been monitoring their suspect: “Gag Me Then F**k Me – did you watch it while you ate that porridge? ... Were you making it look like your c*ck train ripped right through her?” Amid the questions, they unexpectedly reveal personal beliefs, further unnerving viewers: “Can we just say, we’re extremely pro-sex… Porn makes violent people”.

In a second thematically linked sequence, the duo try to physically represent what pornography feels like to a kidnapped Queen, demonstrating through a variety of amusing repetitive actions and sounds. Initial exchanges are comically absurd as they offer a bound Queen a buffet, begging her to ban pornography by signing a calligraphed scroll they’ve brought. Additional humour, comes courtesy of the Queen unexpectedly saying, “That’s not what sex feels like at all”, illustrating her beliefs through a series of surreal body postures and facial expressions.

Following dramatic vignettes, depict other attempts by the lead duo to illustrate the ill-effects of pornography and bring its existence to an end: a school boy is shot purely to stop him becoming an abusive porn watcher; a pathetic old man is bullied down and an orange boiler-suited blonde woman in charge of the internet puts a halt to their campaign by asking “How do you define sexy?” In the final climactic scene a pink heart blanket, bed frame and rocking horse are brought on as the remaining cast act out depraved primal desire, before thought-provokingly establishing “We don’t know what we’re doing?”

Writer, Alice Birch’s taboo play, illustrates, celebrates and challenges differences in sexual preferences and our uncertainty and shame at admitting or recognising primeval desires. We Want You To Watch flicks from the dead serious to the self-mocking and surreal. In demonstrating the difference between simply watching sex and pornography, Birch creates a lively, hypnotic and playful piece of theatre. While it has its faults, its strong, energetic and multi-talented cast (Adam Charteris, Lloyd Everitt, Helen Golen, Abbi Greenland, Bettrys Jones, Helena Lymbery and Peter Marinker) and shocking content mesmerise viewers, leaving us flabbergasted and thinking on.

by Leo Owen