Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lapdancing @ The Western Bar

Lapdancing @ The Western Bar

Borgesian conundrum
Plugging into the fashion for both site-responsive and intimate theatre, Lapdancing is yet another experience that juggles multiple platforms in an attempt to question the nature of theatre and the audience's complicity. It throws about questions about the fundamental nature of gender relations and commodification of the body, even as it maintains an almost Buddhist suspension of judgement.

The Western Bar itself is evocative of a decaying past, a proletarian decadence far from the bohemian stereotypes of Nietzsche and Wilde. Its rich history has seeped into the wooden panels, conjuring a vision of hidden pleasures lost and forgotten moralities. 

Within this, the rotating cast eschew narrative for monologues that threaten to become dialogues, a steady stream of questions that literally ask the audience what they want. Lacking narrative, Lapdancing has a circular structure, returning to the themes of the male gaze and erotic connection.
Where liberal theatre identifies consumerism as a negative force within sexual relations, Lapdancing bravely refuses to make judgements. In a critique of art that relies on state funding, the performance continues until the money runs out, at which point, the nature of audience-performer relationship is made explicit. The short one-to-ones happening in the small booths reflect The Arches' famous Spend a Penny season, where expectation is denied by giving the punter exactly what they expected.
Lapdancing has a provocative approach to the left's assumption that consumerism is destructive: it also stresses that, despite feminism and post-modernism, it is impossible to explain away desire. It asks whether male-female heteronormative relations have ever changed, explores the boundaries of where theatre is located, and collides into theories about the fourth wall with a direct physicality. 

Ultimately, however, it challenges ideas of objectivity and morality, insisting, in the manner of St Paul, that perception defines an experience: to the pure of heart, all things seem pure.

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