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Risque - The Lewd and the Ludicrous

Mack (Marlon Brown) and Lacey (Carline Brown)

The only thing missing from David Tulloch’s Risque, is that bow-chicka-wow-wow sound track to warn you that what you are now watching Cinemax, and it’s After Dark. There are not so thin lines between sexually provocative art, the bawdy and porn and Risque strips itself naked and runs shrieking across those lines. Though it tries to declare itself as something else, Risque is, at best, soft porn - not because it’s pregnant with sexually graphic scenes, and frontal nudity, but because there is no artistic merit to their presence.

Risque is written and directed by David Tulloch and produced by RBT Films and Production. The play surrounds the exploits of two couples who journey to the Risque resort in Negril, which promises to be able to fix marital woes. Howard Reese (played by Curley Roberts) and Lacy Reese (portrayed by Carline Brown) are a recently married couple who are sexually and emotionally out of touch with each other. When they arrive at Risque they meet Sherece, who goes by the name Diamond Back (played by Denese Foster) and Aston (Marlon Brown) a far more adventurous couple.

Risque gets gratuitously graphicAt the heart of most of Risque, was a decent play struggling to get out. However, it gets stuck in the morass created by the attempt to shock and not so much awe with nudity and gratuitous sex and an over generous serving of curse words, which had to be stressed every single time, resulting in stilted and affected dialogue. Worse yet, by the end of the production, the entire play devolves into the ridiculous, and soon villains and would-be villains are delivering lengthy monologues explaining the myriad plot holes in the play. The good thing is, by then, the play has become so bad that it is absolutely hilarious.

And as though, the plot and weak performances are not bad enough, the sexist bent of the nudity makes this production even more problematic. With all the gratuitous sex and nudity, none of the men in the production bare more than their chests, highlighting that artistic realism has nothing to do with the graphic portrayals, it is all about titillation. The inexperienced actors could have benefited from stronger direction

With a growing history of in theatre which now spans about a decade, David Tulloch continues to display a great commitment to producing theatre and has tried his hand at acting, writing, producing and directing. He clearly enjoys it, and his dedication is admirable. The problem is, he is not as committed to producing good theatre, and so products like Risque result.  

None of the actors in the production are experienced and all could have benefitted from a stronger and more practiced hand at direction, which, though it wouldn’t have been able to save the play, it would have at least alleviated its dire case of over-acting. The production also has little to offer by way of its technical merits, with lighting, costuming and set design being merely functional.

But of course, if all you want to see some is bow-chicka-wow-wow ... plots and great performances are overrated.

Risque is currently playing at the Stages Theatre in New Kingston.