Edinburgh Fringe 2019
“Such Filthy F*cks, by Oli Forsyth, is the seventh play by the award-winning Smoke and Oakum Theatre. It takes us into the fractured and fast-changing world of Jules and Luka, two ordinary people, desperately trying to connect with each other and live normal lives, but all while completely and utterly addicted to porn.
Such Filthy F*cks explores a taboo topic and a heartbreaking story line, to examine one of the 21st centuries biggest social contagions.”
Jules and Luka ‘s lives rub together in an unexpected setting and together they make an unlikely pair, their connection revolving around their inability to connect intimately in a loving relationship. The cause of this? Porn addiction. But what came first? Or who? Sorry. Everything starts to take a different tone when we shine the filter of porn addiction. This show is filled with shocking and thought provoking real life scenarios and facts. Facts such as the online pornography provider PornHub (owned by just one person) received 28 billion hits last year. The show also spins pre conceptions on their axis – it’s the female character of this story who has the worse problem.
The two actors carry this story robustly, keeping our attention throughout. Porn addiction is the focus and while some of the issues are a little overly spelled out at times; the impact is powerful and important. I liked how the light projection on the pillar changed as his addiction – and hers for a while – lessened. More detail started to come in, symbolic I think of how managing addiction of any sort and stopping the substance or behaviour of addiction opens up the subtleties and higher qualities of human experience again. The opposite of addiction is connection.
It is a potentially a controversial critique to offer, but I don’t know if the woman’s character and her porn addiction was always that believable. I really admire the production for trying to turn the cliche of addicted males on its head. It is vital to acknowledge that women have sex drives and obsessive tendencies too. But I think what made it a little less convincing, was that this character felt like a direct imprinting of a stereoptypical heterosexual (cis) male’s sexually addictive behaviour, onto a heterosexual (cis) woman. Rather than exploring how a woman might behave, it was a little distancing in some ways, although equally brilliant in others.
McCarthy and Huband were mostly convincing, highly committed and professional performers who were fascinating to watch as they tackled this, at times awkward, material. The writing was bold and interesting, contributing a vital viewpoint to the dialogue around online human behaviours. There was a strong narrative throughout that kept us intrigued by what would unfold. An original concept for an important topic. While the show might have disappointed some to came to curiously see what all the Filthy fucks were – this is definitely more of an exploration on addiction and relationship – there was enough meat (sorry) to pique interest.
What I thought was great was how the writing also addressed how to deal with Porn addiction, highlighting the online communities available for those in the grip of a compulsion to watch Porn, who feel unable to stop themselves. Unfortunately this is a growing number. Men in their 30s are becoming impotent and the research points to online Porn watching being the CAUSE of this. I find this terrifying and depressing. PornHub is making a fortune out of re-wiring people’s brains to make them unable to feel aroused by being in bed with a naked person whom they care about. Human beings are struggling to connect to each other in real life and instead are choosing to be alone with their laptop on a Friday night immersed in a world of fast paced fantasy and lets face it degrading, violent and fetishised sex. Choosing this life over the uncomfortable and challenging (in a good way) efforts to connect with real, hairy, spotty, clumsy, shy, imperfect, unfiltered, cellulite bottomed, vulnerable human beings. This is a sad state of affairs and an urgent conversation for us all to be having, especially with our young people. I wish all teenagers could watch this show.