BAC (Battersea Arts Centre), London SW11
Opened 14 November, 1991

Well, the final gang-rape of the Virgin Mary was obscured by dry ice and strobe lighting. Here and elsewhere, Nick Hedges pussyfoots disappointingly. The moral majority of Wandsworth borough will hear a few dirty words (OK, more than a few), but the ritual decorations, gouged eyeball, flayed flesh and so forth are heavily Kabuki'd and (Lindsay) Kemped up well beyond the bounds either of shock or titillation.

All very well (when told that a flagellation scene looked like a bad porn movie, Hedges responded, "Well, we wouldn't want it to look like a good one"), but bereft of shock the production is left with the book's two other main elements: black humour and tedium. It's a brilliant stylistic creation, from the amplified whiplash page-turning to the Kellogg's mini Variety packs, though it goes nowhere in the end except... well, in its own end. Still, there are worse orifices to plunge into.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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