Shopping and Fucking
Directed by Scot Greenwell
Through Dec. 18 Shopping and Fucking is not for everyone. Just the title alone will turn off some people. Others who think themselves adventurous will instead be appalled and shocked by the play itself.
That's because it is a challenge - a massive one, even to those who think of themselves as "open-minded" and "progressive." So, if you want to live in an antiseptic universe, and you don't want your ideas about who makes up society rocked, don't go see this show.
If you are still reading, good. Let's see if you make it through the synopsis.
The play is set in Manchester, England. Mark is the "owner" of a "slave" couple, Lulu and Robbie. (If you need definitions of the above terms, do a search on www.nuvo.net for BDSM.) Mark has been hitting the smack pretty hard, and decides to check himself into rehab. He up and leaves his slaves to fend for themselves. While it is noble that Mark wants to detox, Lulu and Robbie are incapable, as slaves, of taking care of themselves. In their attempts to find and hold down jobs, they bungle a drug sale, which leads them to the creation of a phone sex hotline to pay off the debt. Meanwhile, Mark is kicked out of rehab for licking a man's anus, and takes up with Gary, a very young man who is a prostitute. Mark quickly falls in love with Gary, but Gary wants a "master" - a role that Mark has given up as part of his drug rehabilitation. When Mark takes Gary home to meet Lulu and Robbie, a plan is concocted to get everyone what they want. Of course, nothing turns out the way they expected.
Like I said, Shopping and Fucking is not for everyone.
But what makes it worth sitting through versus another clichéd Christmas show is that it makes you think. You may be disturbed by it, but Shopping and Fucking's merit lies in opening eyes to others' life choices and their predicaments. When I described this show to a friend of mine, he said that he is glad he's not a critic because he would not have wanted to go see this show. I am glad I am a critic because I had to see the show. Making one uncomfortable, eliciting emotion - these are signs of good art. "What makes this play so dangerous to closed minds is its unnerving knack of opening our eyes to the horrors of our daily lives," the Sunday Express (England) said of Shopping and Fucking.
So, if you are up for the challenge, this production won't disappoint. PEOPLES Playhouse, which presented Two Rooms in October, assembled a strong cast with Chris Saunders as Mark, Allisa Jordan as Lulu, Adam Avery Davis as Robbie, Nick Taylor as the Lion King-obsessed drug lord and Brian Glunt as Gary. Scot Greenwell directs. Both individually and combined, the cast delivers the dire straits of each character - exploring their humanity, their frailties, their humor and their desires. Technically, the show has no faults, and even the British accents remain pretty much intact.
Shopping and Fucking continues at the Alley Theatre, 1716 N. Illinois St., through Dec. 18. Call 926-8888 for tickets.