"Porn plus musical plus late night antics = does it really get any better?" asks Kelly Rae Smith.
"I left dumbstruck, enraged and saddened," writes Hilary Donald.
Porn plus musical plus late night antics = does it really get any better? Add a mulleted redneck/disco pimp with a 70s shirt that barely buttons up over his hairy chest and a protruding beer belly, and you’ve got yourself some fine entertainment. Well not ‘fine’, but entertainment still.
This biographical musical depicts the life of Linda Lovelace, from pregnant teen to woman-against-pornography, via stellar vocals and hilarious lyrics. With the book, music and lyrics written by Charlotte Caffey of The Go Gos fame and Anna Waronker from LA band That Dog (her father is the man behind Dreamworks), the tale is conducted like a rock opera.
It begins by delving into Lovelace's claims of an unsupportive mother, an exploited career in porn that began and continued as rape at gunpoint, and her eventual escape and redemption in campaigning with Take Back the Night. Through all of the sexual, mental and physical abuse endured, this story maintains, she never saw a cent of the billions made by her main claim to fame, Deep Throat.
Amid the heaviness, there’s also plenty of T ‘n’ A for the naughty, lyrical laughs for those in need of comic relief after a long day of lackluster festival comedy, and an hour’s entertainment that definitely doesn’t suck. Kelly Rae Smith
I left dumbstruck, enraged and saddened as to just how far off the mark a production like this could possibly be. Lovelace – A Rock Musical is an insult to the story of Linda Boreman, the infamous pornographic actress of the film Deep Throat (1972) who later denounced her career and became a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement and a champion for women’s rights.
The musical depicts the violence and objectification women working in the sex industry are subjected to without being challenging or thought provoking – it lacks complexity and intellect – there is more raunch than any sort of message. The sophistication of plot progression and the intellectual depth of the characters, particularly the female characters, is negligible; it doesn’t take long for the stripping, songs about domestic violence and gang rape to commence. There is no recognition of the emotional and psychological damage acts such as the ones demonstrated on stage cause to women other than lyrics like “a distant pounding in my soul…shove your anger into me.”
It is the most simplistic interpretation imaginable and I dare say it glorifies the sex industry unashamedly. Towards the end Boreman’s transition towards activism is portrayed as a basic urge to be a wife and mother, and there is a brief appearance of some angry feminists outside the movie launch, so in effect women are depicted only as strippers, wife/mothers, or angry feminists.
The cast are all unmistakeably talented and extraordinary singers; it is a complete travesty that the beautiful women performing are reduced to the objectification Linda Boreman herself fought for us to overcome. It perpetuates the degradation of talented women to sexual objects by taking their clothes off, reaffirming our secondary status within a patriarchy and the normalisation of depictions of violence against women in the media - an utterly depressing and damaging theme to be creeping its way into theatre. Hilary Donald
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