On my way to the theatre, I had high hopes for Soupcan Theatre, Safeword and Aim for the Tangent’s production of Circle Jerk. The show was an artistic challenge that was looking to push the boundaries of conventional, safe theatre. As an avid lover of controversial theatre theory I was quite excited for this show, however, my feelings at the end were very different.
Circle Jerk was a long, two and a half hour collection of 4 short plays revolving around a variety of intimate and uncomfortable topics ranging from sex, death, relationships and suicide. The concept was that each play was given a starting line and it had to end with the line that the following play would begin with, hence completing the circle.
The plays were, for the most part, well written and the performers did justice to their parts. Circle Jerk clearly sought to shock its audience, in which it was quite successful, however, shock theatre is only a valuable tool when your audience has time to process what they have just seen. Reflection is an essential part of shock theatre and without it, the piece just becomes cluttered and uncomfortable.
The show was full of possible triggers, especially in regards to rape culture, and although a mature content warning was given, I feel more warning was needed. Having a performer repeatedly rage about how badly he wants to rape his partner in order to “feel like a man” is redundant and overtly vulgar to the extent that the show loses its ability to effectively relay a potent message.
Circle Jerk does have its moments. The jokes were quite funny and the delivery of the punch-lines were on the mark. Special mention goes out to Tiffany Deobald and Carys Lewis for their ability to demonstrate the emotional struggle of finding humour in such a heartbreaking situation. Also, the orchestra did a phenomenal job and each piece set the right tone for each performance.
Circle Jerk was an artistic challenge, which aimed to shock its audience in order to convey a message about sex, death and society. However, with little time to reflect and a vast array of topics being thrown at you, the messages were lost in a series of awkward gaffs. Circle Jerk succeeds in its attempt at shock theatre, but falls short of making a meaningful impact.
Circle Jerk runs until Nov. 23 at lemonTree Studio. For more information, visit http://soupcantheatre.com/.
photo credit: LV Imagery