Soho Theatre, London – until 13 May 2023
After a surprisingly (to them) successful stint at this year’s Vault Festival, disability-led FlawBored Theatre returns with It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure, their razor-sharp satire on all things ableism. And yes, it is indeed a pleasure – although obviously I would say that, because I’m a white, non-disabled, straight woman who’s fully aware of and mortified by my own privilege, and it would be thoroughly ableist of me to say anything else. But also, this show is really good and you should buy tickets immediately.
After one of their influencers “does an ableism”, PR firm Rize (with a z) need some damage control… and this presents employee Tim (Samuel Brewer), who’s blind, with a golden opportunity. Teaming up with Ross (Aarian Mehrabani), a wannabe influencer who also happens to be blind, and supported by extremely able-anxious HR rep Helen (Chloe Palmer), Tim sets out to take full advantage of non-disabled people’s discomfort and fascination around disability. His lucrative scheme, while cynical, is arguably not unreasonable or even that far-fetched; there’s a reason (albeit not necessarily a good one) why experiences like dining in the dark are so popular. But when it comes to celebrating disability, how far is too far? And who gets to decide where that line is?
While the central narrative is certainly engaging and thought-provoking, what lifts the show to another level is the way the story is framed. Opening with an absurd, and therefore hilarious, introduction to the social model of disability, the trio take us through all the many ways they’ve tried to make the show accessible to all. These range from the standard (a caption screen at the back of the stage) to the ridiculous (a touch tour that invites the entire front row to get to grips with one of the actors). Throughout the show, the actors repeatedly break the fourth wall, bringing the audience – at times quite literally – into the action and gleefully poking fun at everyone, including themselves. Nobody is safe… which in an odd way, means that everyone is equally safe.
All this is not to say there isn’t a serious point, or that the show doesn’t venture into some extremely dark territory (both metaphorically and literally). By exploring all the different ways of providing accessibility, FlawBored shine a light (again, both metaphorically and literally… you get the idea, this is a very clever show) on the frequent absence of that accessibility out in the world. And by taking the glorification of difference – in this case through disability – to extremes, they ask some genuinely uncomfortable questions of disabled and non-disabled audience members alike. Except they do it not by lecturing but by making us laugh like hyenas, which is almost certainly a much more effective tactic.
FlawBored close the show by listing all the accolades they’ve received in the last few months, the implication being that’s more because of who they are than what they’ve done. I’d argue it’s probably a bit of both; they may be a new company, but if It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure is their first show, I can’t wait to see* what they do next.
*Experience. I meant experience. Not see. Sorry.
It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure is at Soho Theatre until 13th May.
Adblock test (Why?)