Right now, I’m reading Four Plays: A Thought in Three Parts, Marie and Bruce, Aunt Dan and Lemon, the Fever by Wallace Shawn. The first, A Thought in Three Parts is disturbing in the extreme. It is all about how people are incapable of connecting with each other, despite all their external attempts. The second part is so pornographic that I wonder how it could be produced. But it has been. According to Wikipedia, it “caused a minor uproar in London in 1977 when the production was investigated by a vice squad and attacked in Parliament due to allegedly pornographic content.” Allegedly pornographic content?
It gets worse. Helen proposes a contest to see whether Bob or Dick can ejaculate higher onto her naked body. I forget who won.
Having said all this, Shawn is an extremely interesting writer. I’m sure seeing one of his plays today is very much like what it was to see The Bald Soprano in 1950. But they are in no way easy; they challenge emotionally and intellectually. Most people will not be willing to work as much as these plays require. What’s more, they are not what people who know Wallace Shawn, the film actor, will be expecting. There are no comments on the joys of electric blankets or exasperated inconceivables.
For anyone who likes Shawn or who has been paying any attention to politics over the last 30 years, the following clip is easy. And extremely funny.