Dirty Little Machine, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

What’s a woman to do when she wants to have filthy, degrading sex that directly opposes her feminist principles?

Find the most degenerate, weasel of a man in the hopes that fucking him will purge her of deep-seated desires to be used, of course.

And that’s exactly what Jane does. After seducing ‘free spirit’ Dick at a party and moving him into her flat so she can be totally exploited by the porn-obsessed photographer who refuses to get a job, she longs for the day when she discovers she will be relieved of her rape fantasies.

Dashes of magic realism and excerpts of the erotic novel that Jane read at age 13 inspiring her dirty little secrets pepper the story of her relationship that, whilst equally humorous and poignant, is a fairly predictable narrative. The structure is more surprising than the story itself, especially the surreal rabbit hole of pornographic filmmaking the couple through which the couple throws themselves.

There is some great commentary about female sexuality and porn accompanying engaging performances from Kate Handford and Ben Mann. Director Roxy Cook effectively draws out Jane’s frustration and the conflict between reality and fantasy with some slick staging and a good sense of rhythm.

This is a solid little play with some big ideas, but it often sticks too closely to a safe storyline. There are thematic parallels to Louise Orwin’s OH YES OH NO, but Orwin’s work is bolder and more structurally sophisticated. It’s thisclose to smashing through theatrical boundaries what with its dalliances into non-linear storytelling, but it could certainly go further.

Dirty Little Machine runs through 18 March.

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