YLLANA'S 666
Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2000

This wordless piece by Spanish clowning/physical theatre company Yllana (presented here with a British cast) has been doing healthy business in the Pleasance's main performance space, but critical opinion has been more divided. It boils down, ultimately, to how insatiable one's appetite is for... not to mince words... willy jokes.

As a quartet of tough nuts or rather, three tough nuts and a mincing runt are banged up in a top-security prison, the premise becomes a mere setting for a stream of gags about urination, masturbation and anal rape. The audience is liberally splattered with mock-urine and mock-semen, and at one point a female punter is apparently enticed onstage for what comes close to being the most degrading bit of audience participation I have ever seen; the fact that it's supposedly all in fun, and that the woman is in fact a plant (although the audience isn't to know this), does nothing to legitimise such exploitation.

With a less late-night-lubricated audience, the distastefulness of the material would rapidly cease to be a joke in itself. It's ingenious and more than ably performed, to be sure, but I'm afraid I have had more actual fun having stitches removed from the roof of my mouth without anaesthetic. Perhaps I just wasn't drunk enough.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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