Tramway, Glasgow, run ended
In these days of ubiquitous sexploitation advertising and cinematic ‘torture porn’, striptease can seem like an almost quaint activity. Such, indeed, is the thesis of one of the striptease artists in Nightshade, the latest show to be brought to Scotland by the inventive Belgian theatre company, Victoria.
Popping the balloons which cover her body, the proudly fuller-figure stripper suggests, ironically, that her routine must seem outdated. In the old days, she says, repressed husbands would come to watch her performances, before scuttling home to their wives. Nowadays, of course, she comments knowingly, we’re all much too liberated to be repressed.
Her humorous deconstruction of postmodern ideas of sexuality is one of the strongest pieces in a diverse collection of theatrical vignettes. By turns beautiful, erotic, disturbing and perplexing, the acts go beyond the subject of striptease, raising wider questions about representations of sexuality within our culture.
Particularly affecting is the piece in which a slightly built young woman - who, at first appears to be a girl - is seemingly forced to perform. Frightened, then terrified, she is only able to strip after crawling, like Alice in Wonderland, into a hole, her face hidden.
Elsewhere, an archetypically erotic performer in stockings and red high heels uses the (vertically and horizontally) moving partitions of this technically accomplished production to play, humorously and seductively, with notions of concealment and control.
Inevitably, some pieces are more thought provoking and visually arresting than others, but, yet again, Victoria have succeeded in taking theatre onto unfamiliar but unexpectedly rich terrain.