Friday, 28 June 2019

REVIEW: The Censor at The Hope Theatre


Female-led production company RoundPeg Theatre have brought back a revival of Anthony Neilson’s ‘The Censor’ 22 years after it was written. The controversial play demonstrates the relationship between female pornographer, Miss Fontaine (Suzy Whitefield), and film censor, Frank (Jonathan McGarrity), as she convinces him to recommend her film so it will be produced and seen by men, women and children worldwide. Fontaine convinces Frank to look deeper into the sexual relations in the film, meanwhile, manipulating him into a physical relationship of their own. The Censor covers many interesting topics on sexuality, empowerment and infidelity, to name a few. It is ‘18’ rated and will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly worth watching. 

McGarrity’s performance was exceptional, he captures the range of a miserable man entangled in a messy marriage and unenjoyable job with humour and likeability. His approach to Frank’s darker fantasies are explored with sophistication which leave us wanting more. Chandrika Chevli’s role as his wife is intense; her snippets of action keep the play fast-paced and dynamic. 

Suzy Whitefield as Miss Fontaine digs deeper into the overtly sexual character you initially meet. Whitefield’s performance is gripping and intelligent. At times the character comes across a little forced, but her approach to the censorship argument is what builds this play into the topical performance it is. 

Imogen Beech’s direction is excellent; her ability to draw out the vulnerability of Frank and Miss Fontaine is commendable. With the support of Ita O’Brien and Kate Lush as intimacy supervisor and co-ordinator, the graphic scenes are disturbing and yet bizarrely intriguing. The 70-minute play draws to a tragic ending that seems irrelevant. I believe the content is shocking enough without the necessity of a dramatic plot twist.

The Censor will no doubt still shock audiences in current day. Debating whether because sex and relationships are evolving, so should we restrict our ability to view it is something with extreme relevance. With current restrictions being passed to limit the age you can access pornography; this fearless play is thought-provoking and pushes the boundaries in fringe theatre.

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £15
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