Commissioned by the National Theatre, RashDash's We Want You To Watch is bold, shocking and definitely achieves its aim of raising more questions than it answers. After reading a number of mixed reviews about the play, I was apprehensive about what I would make of it. After all, it's not everyday you watch a play which focuses exclusively on pornography. Luckily, RashDash's approach to the tackling the topic was entertaining, challenging and, at times, moving.
The plot focuses on Pig (Abbi Greenland) and Sissy's (Helen Goalen) quest to 'start again' by eradicating pornography from the world. The play is split into several sections focused on specific issues from debates about pornography (e.g. correlation between violent crimes and watching violent porn, it's unrealistic and harmful to children etc.) with Pig and Sissy desperately trying to convince the 'opposition' (portrayed as a different antagonist in each scene) that their argument is correct. To aid the scene changes, the set was largely bare except for stacks of Warhol-esqe tin can labelled ‘Sex’, a bleak presentation of the pornography industry. The lighting and sound were well utilised – I loved the use of ‘Run The World (Girls)’ – and the props were clearly chosen with care. Unfortunately this now means I’ll never be able to look at a rocking horse in the same way again.
The cast were incredibly physically fit and made the fast-paced, high-energy movement look largely effortless (and difficult when required by the plot). One particularly funny scene involving the kidnapping of HM Elizabeth II (played brilliantly by Helena Lymbery) saw Pig and Sissy trying to convince her to ban porn only to realise that she has no idea what they were talking about. Cue Pig throwing Sissy around the stage to show porn as a mechanical process and then the Queen responding by expressing her own feelings about sex through much thrusting and sound effects... The most poignant moment for me was the simplest scene; a young boy (Adam Charteris) sat alone on the stage while Pig and Sissy spoke of how his perception of love and sex would be forever warped because of his exposure to pornography at a young age, causing me to question how extensive the psychological damage pornographic material has on individuals and society as a whole.
The leads' anger and frustration was raw and frequently expressed through silent screams and aggressive dancing. Between each section, Greenland and Goalen marked the transition by saying 'can I just say?', then ridiculing movements and noises from pornography; it was both hilarious and saddening that these unnatural actions are considered 'sexy'. Throughout the performance, Pig and Sissy would pause in the middle of the scene, break the fourth wall and address the audience directly with statements such as 'we're pro-sex' and 'we're only talking about heterosexual pornography, this is a failure, we're not sorry.' Whether these are opinions held by the cast or the internal monologue of the characters is unclear but these statements caused further questions to pop into my mind. It's worth noting that there is an option to write down your thoughts online to encourage conversation or you can make something to contribute to the collage. www.we-want-you-to-watch.co.uk
We Want You To Watch is a high-energy, thought-provoking, politicised piece which forces the audience to actually consider pornography's impact on the modern world, and to question where they stand in the debate.