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Published on Monday, 29 August 2011

2 stars

Zoo (venue website)
14-29 Aug, 11:15pm-12:15am
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

Sodom, the Earl of Rochester’s deliberately obscene 17th-century drama, is perhaps nothing more than a curio to modern audiences. Its characters called things like General Buggeranthos, every other word is one that you never used to hear on TV, and it’s full of rhyming couplets.  It adds up to a weird mix of shocking, bawdy and pantomime – quaint and modern at once – and this could have been a perfect opportunity to examine whether this text had anything new to say.

And The Movement Theatre Company have attempted to do this with a motif about New Labour politicians and tabloid journalists. However, recent topical events surrounding politicians and the tabloid media seem to have overtaken and confused things.  It’s such a shame; if this had been handled deftly it could have made this production seem incredibly prescient. But, instead, the New Labour red ties stay intact and a copy of the final edition of The News of the World is flapped around too, leading to muddiness as to when this production is actually set.

This confusion seems typical of the production’s general lack of thoughtfulness. All the performances were stiff and shouty, the slight plot was lost and the inclusion of modern pop songs was just baffling.

It could be that there is nothing more to Sodom – that is just a quirk of literature and has nothing of interest to say – but in that case, why put it on at all?  Sadly, this production seems overly keen on the titillating shock-value of the piece, judging from the scanty costumes of all the female characters – not the men, who were in their New Labour suits throughout.

It’s a shame that something that was once so edgy and truly shocking has been reduced to this mess of lazy stereotypes and confused staging.  I’m afraid the Coliseum ending got a thumbs down from me.

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