No sex, please, we’re “Barefootish”

Saturday, 8 April 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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I’ve got sex on my mind. Ever since I sat – skulked, really – in a dark corner of Barefoot Café and eavesdropped. Good little voyeur that I am, I was half prepared for vulvas, vaginas, and other venial vestiges beginning with V. It was V-Day, after all. But I was not prepared for “800 odd criminals watching porn in Sri Lanka”. Or 200 odd – really odd – watchers observing our blessed isle’s most furtively and fiercely viewed spectator-sport: sex.

Of course, this wasn’t sex as you might find it in the bright, sunlit, uplands of love, passion, romantic idealism, or monogamous monotony. No, dears, it wasn’t even sex as you might surreptitiously pore over in a thick glossy tome that grows heavier by the minute as your breathing becomes more stertorious under the inspiration and exhalation of the lurid art. It was more like making the beast with two backs as (shall we say) a Bishop of the Church of England would define or deny it. And for once, I’m glad the actress wasn’t by my side. For once – but don’t quote me on it – I’m content that she didn’t come…

Sorry, folks, all this prurience and pudenda are making me a tad purple in my face… and my prose. Blame it on the authors of and actors in V-Day. Here, for once, was the sex no one talks about – unless it’s at this Vagina Monologue-ish outing at Barefoot Café. It was an outing, all right. Outre, over the top, and outrageously gratuitous. But, at the end of the day, in a good cause, I’d say, with some hesitation; because the degree of titillation and giggly titters left me a tad, well, drained. That, I think, was part of the point, or the point. This, after all, is not the type of tryst you write home to mother about – or even confess to your friendly neighbourhood clergyperson.

According to Malthus, there are two sexes. According to Madonna, three, or four, maybe five if you count, er, or perhaps six or seven if you include, um. At Barefoot the other night – the evening of April Fool’s Day – there was a bewildering array of gender, passionate interlocutory, and socio-sexual interrelationships. Not that it was a thinly veiled TrojanH by the LGBTIQC+ lobby or anything like that… Just an honest (if that’s the right word for something so shameful), shocking but not surprising, brutal but cleverly packaged and presented, look at the four-letter phenomenon that spelled with three.

The content of this wicked and witty (and this was, unlike another far less diabolical offering a weekend ago which made the same claim) pastiche of playlets had your worldly-wise bishop umming and erring; hemming and hawing later as he explained his evening’s entertainment to the actress at home…

“Was it good for you?”

“Yes – and no.”

“Come, come, you can do better than that…” (As the actress said to the bishop.)

“It depends on what you mean by good…”

“Was there swearing? Was it explicit? Was there nudity?”

“Yes, yes, and no – I wish…”

“Was it meaningful? Were you significantly moved? Where was the relevance?”

Good point. From a contextual perspective, a production like this at a venue like that is most ideally suited to expose and engage with the seamier underbelly of Colombo/Sri Lanka’s sex life that is usually swept under the aspidistra. And the presenters (actors and scriptwriters) went for it hammer and thong, er, tong. In a good cause. Which is to say: to alert, make aware if awareness was not there before that one sultry night, and conscientize theatregoers to some pressing issues and concerns in the sphere under screw… I mean scrutiny. If I might be permitted to quibble a bit, exposing the dark side of sex in suburbia is a bit like pricking, er preaching, to the choir.

Be that as it may: the beautiful people, wannabes, NGO/INGO set, folk on fire for feminist and other causes, media savvy peeps, social media activists, hacktivists, and other denizens of the night were treated to brief (no pun) but absorbing (and again, none) treatment of the following:

nrape (and the ramifications thereof; also the ludicrousness of the anti-rape fads and features that populate the seamier side of online marketing) 

nprostitution at its most perverse (if I mention toothless granny-sex, my in-house media censor will have a conniption fit)

npornography (which corresponding skit skirted too many issues to be of any lasting value, except to highlight the ridiculousness of model proposals to censor porn on the web, given its pernicious and proliferate nature)

npolicing sexual crimes, and the hoary chestnut of who will guard the guards, with a sharp and pointed critique of sex-complaints procedure, which was creatively presented by virtue of the victim being unseen, unheard, except as recorded and reflected in the statement made… being taken down by a WPC – but, ah, taken up (with great interest) by a male SI

On the theatrical side of things, while this was not exactly promenade, the whole experience was a moveable feast. The action moved from one stage to another platform, making good use of the garden setting. Good views of the screen were nicely complemented by stark lighting and adroit handling of the cameras. Great that many of the scripts were Sinhala and Tamil originals, with requisite dubbing for the Brits and other nationalities present that night to commingle with the Barefootish and other non-entities. (If the who’s who of theatre-folk were there – doyens like Indu and dynamic youngsters like Pia and Achini and Gehan and Dino and Dominic – then the usual suspects among the socialites and sexual-socialists were also at hand… and if you could move over a smidge, dear, your thigh is pressing too close to my trembling jelly-like leg, that would be peachy. Beer? Yes, cheers!)