By Emily Alexander and Nate Dobson; Directed by Jessica O'Hara-Baker
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.26.16
VENUE #7: Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place
by Adriana Santos on 8.26.16
Emily Alexander and Nate Dobson in The Fucking Problem.
BOTTOM LINE: A revealing tell-all about the porn industry directly from the mouths of two of its biggest stars.
In The Fucking Problem, the porn industry’s “prom king and queen” expose themselves in a different way than one might expect. Two unnamed adult film stars, a woman and a man, shift the focus of their profession from what they do in front of the camera to the complex relationships that occur off-screen between those in the business of selling sex. In the already intimate space of Under St. Mark’s these stars tell all in a confessional style that breaks the fourth wall in the first thirty seconds and keeps it that way. It is not a drama in a conventional sense, with dialogue and plot, but this direct address structure serves the fast-paced script best as it quickly humanizes the bodies usually seen engaging with each other in a more carnal way.
These two are here to talk to you; to let you in and set the record straight. In staying separated and taking up their own spaces—each claims their own side of the stage as though an invisible line has been drawn on the ground between them—any sexual tension is immediately dispelled, along with the conception of porn as a taboo industry. Quickly the two matter of factly state what they do, and their candor normalizes it. The business is a mere framework for more interesting dynamics of romance, familiar relationships, and ambition to unfold. Despite the uncommon professional discussion of porn, the themes of these people’s struggles are immensely relatable.
The performances by the play’s two co-writers, Emily Alexander and Nate Dobson, are unapologetic. These two care about the message they are sending out and use up every second of their time to get their individual points across passionately. Jessica O’Hara’s direction is minimal yet effective in keeping these characters in their own respective worlds and on their own personal journeys to a powerful climax. A shocking twist brings the surrealism of the entire field into a stark reality that cannot be covered up with any pornography parlance. It’s all revealed, and the actors’ gaze makes it impossible to turn a blind eye.
(The Fucking Problem plays at VENUE #7: Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, through August 26, 2016. The running time is 1 hour. Performances are Sun 8/14 at 4:30; Fri 8/19 at 2:15; Sat 8/20 at 7; Mon 8/22 at 7; and Fri 8/26 at 3:15. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org.)
The Fucking Problem is written and performed by Emily Alexander and Nate Dobson. Directed by Jessica O’Hara Baker. Lighting Design by Jake Fine. Sound Design by Daniela Hart. Stage Managed by Mairead Kress.