My Stories, your emails, The Pit, Barbican, London
Thursday 04 February 2010
Let's imagine you have a teenage son. He comes home one evening and says he has been to an "investigation into identity, relationships, loneliness, and political incorrectness". You praise him. Later, you overhear him telling a friend he has just seen a film of a woman stripping naked and pulling a red handkerchief out of her bottom, then the real woman reading out emails from lonely admirers and projecting photographs of their erect penises and finally stripping in the flesh. "Wicked boy!" you cry. (I'm imagining you're the old-fashioned kind of parent.) "Lying boy!" He is puzzled. "But, mum/dad, I was talking about the same thing."
The description of Ursula Martinez's show is condensed from the one in the Barbican brochure, but, as this is illustrated with photographs of her partly covered only by her hands or a laptop, you know to take it. For corporate art-speak, it's not a patch on the ones produced by the British Council for her other work: "Fuses conceptual ideas with popular forms to create innovative, challenging, experimental theatre," it says about her, as well as "innovative, challenging, provocative". Here is indeed a primer for grant applications.
In the "stories" with which Martinez opens her performance, she tells us that her English father's relatives were scandalised when he married "a dirty Spaniard", but he returned to their good graces when as she put it "his brother married a nigger". She re-enacts her bewilderment with the next-door neighbours' Down's syndrome child, who offered her "ty-ers" from their allotment. (Were the funding authorities told, one wonders, that the show deals with racism and mental illness?) She recalls various human and animal effluvia eaten accidentally or on purpose. She says that police who came to her parents' home after a burglary thought the place had been ruthlessly pillaged, not realising it always looked like that. In a 1987 movie I saw, this joke was used, and the audience groaned at its age.
Throughout, her mouth hangs open in a parody of a grin, then pursed into a knowing smirk.
Though the show was commissioned by Queer Up North as well as the Barbican, the only reference to Martinez's lesbianism is her wish to snog Nigella Lawson. The Arts Council may also feel short-changed, as its £4,990 is not reflected in costume (Martinez wears the same brown suit as she did in the 2006 YouTube film that made her name) or scenery (I assume the Barbican has two lecterns and a movie screen). It's a minute sum, of course, but I wish that none of my money was being spent making people feel superior to men who seek sex on the internet.
To 13 February (0845 120 7550)
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman staying on for whole season as Clara Oswald
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader