theSpace Cabaret at 54
HomoPromos are back again this year with their monologue-striptease that attempts to combine, or rather alternate, a live strip act with an emotional personal outpouring. Trying to maintain the audience’s interest in the story whilst Damola Onadeko stripped off was somewhat futile as the dual nature of being encouraged to look upon a nude presence whilst being exposed as voyeurs did not pay off, particularly when the monologue delivery was a little flawed.
It isn’t so much the way that Onadeko speaks – although a good deal of lines are fumbled or rushed together – but rather the script that causes the production to suffer. The backstory behind ‘Squaddie’, our narrator, includes stories of drug abuse, racial discrimination, gambling addiction, the ethics behind the military, and an exposition of prison hierarchies – a tall order for any show, but made even more unbearable when interspersed with dance sections to Christina Aguilera and Evanescence.
The strip sections are fairly well done – and the majority of the audience responded to them with aplomb and vocal encouragement – but Onadeko has been poorly directed in the monologue sections. Often veering on the edge of melodrama, the potency of a potentially revelatory exposé of the sex industry is highly reduced, and incited more than one cringe from an otherwise attentive audience.
There are some really poorly made directorial decisions in the final few sequences: I genuinely felt sorry for the extremely exposed Onadeko as he had to perform or create some horribly jarring and unnecessary images – such as having to attach various items of national importance to certain parts of his body – and in trying to be about the problems facing soldiers in the Middle East, relevations about sexual orientation and the underbelly of the sex industry, the images ultimately ended up being too polysemous to have any effect at all.
The programme this year claims that reviews of this show in 2011 ‘missed the point’ of this performance, in saying that the production was doing too much. It is indeed trying to address too many issues, but the real problem lies in the fact that a topic as complex as the sex industry and the consequential effect on those that work in it needs more care than this production gives it. In fifty minutes, the piece tries to concentrate what would work better as a longer and less heavy-handed script that works through the nuances of a relevant problem. The format in which the message is delivered is not effective, and ultimately leaves you giggling with embarrassment rather than feeling exposed.