Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Musical Parody

Fifty Shades The Musical! The Original Parody++++=
Grey gets a day glow make-over

Since the novel set the bar so low in terms in characterisation, plot and prose style, this parody of *3Fifty Shades *2easily captures its thin eroticism and pornography of consumerism. There's no doubt that the musical has been designed to appeal to fans of the trilogy – there are two topless men to one scantily clad female backing dancer – but the script expects no prior knowledge. Sending up E.L. James' writing with fondness, the parody revolves around a book group's overheated engagement with their latest set text.

The songs are gloriously crude – dumb like The Ramones, revelling in a blunt, coarse humour and mocking both the book and prudery. James' use of metaphor in the book – the various coy names that body parts get called, and the extended metaphor of the 'inner goddess' – give the company plenty of material.

The cast clearly enjoy camping up the script, and launch into the musical numbers with energy and vocal ability. The choreography is predictable – although the ironic ballet pas de deux marking the lovers' first tryst is witty and technically strong – but the music ranges about through funk, gospel and even Gilbert and Sullivan pastiches to keep the pace fast and the audience cheering.

Christian Grey, the romantic hero, is given a brilliant twist, and his extended work out of I Don't Make Love is both a masterpiece of dirty humour and vocal dexterity. Fans of BDSM-lite won't be disappointed, but there is also a sly wink towards the novel's absurdity.
(Gareth K Vile)

Coming from a critic who is self-consciously pretentious and sexually frustrated, Gareth K Vile's review of Fifty Shades The Musical! The Original Parody is all the more convincing. Clearly signalling his dislike of the source novel ('thin eroticism... pornography of consumerism... mocking both the book and prudery... BDSM-lite... the novel's absurdity'), Vile is clearly comfortable with the musical's approach to the material, and the 'brilliant twist' (unrevealed for spoilers in the review, but actually the casting of a nimble fat guy as the hero) undermines the po-faced seriousness of the Grey Trilogy and its opponents.

In the light of the release of the film of the book, Vile has spoken out on his review, hoping to clarify a few points. Meeting the press in his office around the back of the toilets in the CCA, and looking as if he hasn't had a bath or a shave for the past month, he read a prepared statement in a terse voice.

'Fifty Shades The Musical! The Original Parody,' he explains, 'can now be seen as an expression of the superiority of theatre over film. While I support no boycotts of any art - a position I hope to develop in the upcoming months - I would suggest that the film Fifty Shades of Grey, in line with the book, is less an erotic imagining from a female perspective than capitalism having a big wank over itself. Having read the fucking thing from beginning to end, the traditional values it espouses are not expressed by the sexual scenes - which are boring and trivial - but the overall narrative arc. Grey starts off as a neurotic millionaire. He ends the trilogy as a good father, saved by the love of a good woman. This is the fantasy, the romantic delusion.'

Vile's philosophy has always emphasised the point of contact between audience and art as the 'moment of meaning': far from insisting on a definitive meaning of a particular text, he recognises the complex and fluid nature of interpretation. As such, defenders and complainants against Fifty Shades both mistake their readings of the text as complete.

'A boycott determines that a text has a fixed meaning... in the case of fantasy like this, that fixity goes against the grain of the text. Given how badly it has written, the text allows for multiple readings. A more consistent attack on the novel or film would be to reread it as if it were a satire or a detective story.'

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