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Phil Willmott

Review: BRONX GOTHIC at the Young Vic

Bronx Gothic In this one hour twenty piece of performance art in the stuffy Maria studio of the Young Vic, New York’s Okwui Okpokwsili, alone on stage, is twerking as we take our seats.

The lights go down and she’s spot lit as she stands writhing around for what feels like a very long time. Then she shuffles towards us sweaty and vulnerable and twitches some more.

Then she reads out some notes passed back and forth between herself and another girl during her childhood. She is naive about sex but expressive in her desire for understanding. Her friend explains about orgasms and blow jobs in direct language.

She writhes around on the floor some more. I think she might be “dry humping” it. No seriously. She’s been discussing bringing herself to orgasm, something she’s apparently achieved with a frisbee. Her friend is surprised by this too.

Later they talk about achieving the state of conscious dreaming. More humping the floor.

Later in life she decides to look for her friend. There is mention of cracked skin and Vaseline and speculation as to where the blackness may go if it’s beaten out of you.

Through out the performance Okpokwsali is surrounded by broken light fittings amidst clumps of plastic grass.

I sincerely believe, at this point in our cultural development, it is important that voices which have been underrepresented in the theatre are heard. A solo black woman expressing her sensuality is one such voice.

But what if that voice doesn’t seem to have anything very interesting to say?

Perhaps the challenge, for me at least, is that I need to find a new way of listening to the new voices especially if I’m to convey their value to others via a review.

As things currently stand, I failed to find this show engaging, found it irritatingly entitled, self indulgent and couldn’t wait for it to end.