Thursday, 25 May 2017

REVIEW: Blush at Soho Theatre

On my way out from watching Blush at Soho Theatre I grabbed a copy of Timeout magazine for my journey home. Whilst flicking through the pages, I found a very well-timed column about a Welsh girl who, after receiving an unsolicited picture from a guy of his genitals, made him believe that she lived in Buckingham Palace and was inviting him over. The guy was publicly shamed for driving there from Croydon in the middle of the night and waiting in front of the gate, before being spotted by the guards.

Strongly linked to the same topic, Blush is a play about unnecessarily sexualised content on the net, web pornography, online diffusion of private pictures and the consequent cyber-shaming that has become a widespread issue. Written by Charlotte Josephine and performed by the author herself, together with Daniel Foxmith, this seventy-minute drama gives voice to five every-day characters which highlight distinct aspects of the problem. Taking turns centre stage on a red round carpet, the two actors are surrounded by lights and white screens - as if they were on the set of a photo shoot -- and impersonate three women and two boys, with the use of different accents and inflexions.

The lines are sharp but clever, and the images suggested are brutal and painfully easy to relate to. 'Surely everyone does it', says one of the characters on sending naked pictures with a phone, 'they just don't talk about it'. During a few intentionally quiet moments, I can sense the discomfort of the audience, the nervous fidgiting on the revengeful, as if the air was becoming heavier, and the sighs of unease given by who needed to catch their breath.

The sex tape posted online by a revengeful ex or an occasional partner, the publication of snaps that were intended for private use and then bounced from an inbox to another, the public shaming of the victims, as if they were only avatars and not real human beings, the rape-treats received by individuals who became exposed to public judgement have now become a growing phenomenon hat hits the most vulnerable users. 

Last year, in Italy, there was the infamous episode of a young woman shamed on social media after the circulation of a private photo taken by a sexual partner. Unable to cope with the nationwide humiliation received, the young woman decided to take her own life, stigmatised by a bigot society that failed to protect her. What happened to the person who took the picture, and whether he paid for his outrageous breech of privacy, is unknown, since are more often females to become viral, regardless of them being victims or perpetrators. Blush
highlights this gender inequality when juxtaposing the case of a man who receives full support from his peers after tweeting to a girl who previously refused and denounced his sexual attentions and the case of a woman who receives general reprimand and gets suspended from work for publishing the sex-pics of a lover who had suddenly cut her off. 

Blush doesn't try to tell us what to do to change this phenominon and protect ourselves from the unwanted exposure and dramatic consequences of sex-related social media contents. Instead, it offers some facts, depicting them with strong images and realistic characters, and then leaves the question resounding in the auditorium at the end of a high-stamina and physically demanding performance. Each of us should see this show at least once and then leave the auditorium with the same resounding question: what should we do to change this? 

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★★★
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