When it was written, Philosophy in the Bedroom was ahead of its time. With his acts of base vulgarity, led by prime sexual instinct, the Marquis de Sade contested the idea of sexual revolution being a necessary companion to the political revolution in France of the 18th century, or in fact any political revolution. Of course, few of his contemporaries agreed.
Even today, in an age of so-called sexual liberation, with organisations fighting for the rights of people of certain sexualities and orientations, it is a struggle to place a de Sade piece on stage. After all, his philosophy remains shocking.
Therefore, Philosophy in the Bedroom is naturally expected to be violent, bloody and downright controversial.
Moshpit theatre, as a young company, produce a polite, satirical version of de Sade. It is brave and commendable they take it on, especially since their performances as actors are solid. However, this interpretation of de Sade's work comes across as comedy, undermining the very purpose and philosophy behind it.
Perhaps it is more question of how far the director wishes to push the audience, rather than a fault in the actors' performance itself. Being amiable and likeable to an audience is safer than scarring them for life. Admittedly, the audience may be partly to blame for this, since they subscribe more easily to a satirical laugh than a gasp of terror.
Overall, it is a fine, funny theatre piece standing alone, yet, in context, it fails to take advantage of the gruesome, scandalous nature of de Sade and his writing.
Until 27 Aug, 22.15
TheSpaces on North Bridge
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