Hot on the heels of his Harper Regan at the National, Simon Stephens's Pornography has teased expectations ahead of its UK premiere in Edinburgh. Seven unrelated stories are interwoven while we wait in that strange hinterland between the euphoria Londoners initially felt on being awarded the 2012 Olympics and the 7 July bombings.
Although we know what's coming, we don't know how many of, or how, the characters whose lives we have become privy to will be affected. Stephens seems to be of the view that we live in pornographic times, yet it's unclear what moral point he is trying to make. Whose is the pornography and who is the pornographer?
None of the eight characters is particularly striking, although that is no fault of the actors. The dialogue is free-form, leaving the order of speeches to the director, and Sean Holmes has entwined these characters' ordinary lives with well-judged precision in an effective and fast-moving production.
Stephens's writing glitters, but there's a sense of unreality about the narrative, which fails to engage our emotions. Whether or not the lack of any explosion is simply a relief or some sort of cop-out on the part of the author or the director is difficult to decide. But it does feel as if Stephens has lost his way somewhere between the bold initial idea and its woolly execution.
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