The performance opens on a bare-chested man with a bag over his head and his hands tied behind his back. At the rear of the stage, three oversized tins of soup – à la Andy Warhol – are arranged in a line… only it’s not soup at all, but rather sex, and once opened, a whole can of worms will spill over into a lascivious and low-brow exploration of pornography. Unfortunately, We Want You to Watch doesn’t seem to have the means to bait those worms on their hooks properly, or even have a cogent idea what it is it’s fishing for.
The action flits from scene to scene, as the trussed-up man is accused of a heinous murder due to his online activity, before our nominal protagonists Pig and Sissy switch from cops to supplicants petitioning for the Queen to outlaw pornography, then pleading with a bizarre dominatrix hacker figure to deactivate the internet altogether. Other characters, including an impressionable young schoolboy and a befuddled old man (who seems completely incongruous, even for this ramshackle cast), come and go, before the whole thing descends into a provocative but perplexing dance-off.
The lack of a coherent narrative wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the arguments put forward were more clearly articulated or the ideas raised pushed to some kind of logical conclusion. Despite the fact that this piece of experimental theatre (originally penned by RashDash), it does highlight some interesting dilemmas with regard to our consumption of pornography and the moral quandaries inherent in the industry, but seems to have little clue what it’s actually trying to say about them. Given this unsatisfying source material, Bathway Theatre Company have their work cut out to turn it into a compelling production.
There are some nice directorial touches from Jess Buckley, such as the use of hi-vis jackets and techno music to smooth over scene changes, and the deployment of Jon Hopkins in a powerful, if puzzling, scene involving that out-of-place pensioner. Despite the best efforts and bags of energy poured into the performance by the cast (with special mention for Martina Cerino, who brings much-needed humour to her role as the riding crop-toting hacker), they aren’t able to do much beyond strut and preen and pose around the stage. At 75 minutes, it’s slightly lengthier than the average Fringe show and its reliance on shock value over narrative or argumentative substance – and its failure to even really scandalise in the way it presumably intends to – means that unfortunately the cons outweigh the pros this time around.