is a play that created a bit of a stir as its simulated scenes were a
little more convincing than most. The Home Office
response is interesting and ludicrously menacing.
What is the justification for the law prohibiting sex in a
public place when all of those present are adults and have entered with the
expectation of viewing sexual entertainment? What harm would befall the
audience or society if they were to view real sex?
Scotland Yard is today investigating a controversial
new play after it apparently showed live sex acts in a London theatre.
The review XXX, which had its premiere last
night at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, featured some of the most
realistic sex scenes ever seen in a British theatre.
At one point a man from the audience was dragged on stage where a female
member of the cast appeared to perform oral sex on him.
A Home Office spokeswoman said that sex in public
is a criminal offence, meaning the theatre and the members of the cast could
It is up to the police to decide who is ultimately responsible for the
play. The spokeswoman added: In terms of law it does not make any
difference if it was a member of the cast or a member of the audience who
was involved. Sex in public is an offence and they could be prosecuted.
The performance by the fourstrong Spanish troupe La Fura Dels Baus - two
women and two men - is based on the Marquis de Sade's 18th-century book Philosophy In The Bedroom.
La Fura's director Alex Olle said today that the audience member involved
in the show was a "plant" placed by the company and that his penis was
However, the Home Office said even the use of a prosthesis could lead to
Olle said: This is the only country where people have asked whether it
was real. Since La Fura was founded 25 years ago we have wanted to shock
people so they can open their minds. For me this reaction is funny - and it
is good for our ticket sales. Olle produced the prosthetic penis used
last night as evidence, although the man himself, when questioned
immediately after the show, had insisted he was not connected with the show
and had genuinely been engaged in oral sex on stage.
However, Evening Standard reporter Tim Cooper said: Last night I was
convinced that I had seen a real sex act taking place on stage - and
everyone else in the audience thought so, too. Today the company produced
the prosthesis and said the act had been faked. While I am willing to
believe them I have to say that the performance last night was the most
convincing I have ever seen.
Olle said La Fura recruits volunteers for the audience participation from
theatre schools in Spain and that others would take part in future
performances. If a genuine audience member joins us on stage, as has
happened in other European cities, the performers will not engage in sexual
acts with them, he added.
The show featured scenes of anal, vaginal and oral sex, enacted on stage
but apparently simulated with the help of various sex aids - although many
of the audience believed they were watching genuine live sex.
The video screen behind the stage depicted genuine hardcore sex scenes
throughout the show, from the opening clip of a woman defecating onto the
camera lens. Others included explicit scenes involving bestiality, double
penetration, ejaculation and graphic footage of genital torture and
Outside the theatre a handful of demonstrators handed out leaflets
protesting that the show was lowering the barriers of taste and decency, and
demanding tougher obscenity laws.
Standard art critic Brian Sewell said the show should be allowed to
continue no matter what happened on stage. He said:
I don't see why these
things should not be done on the stage. If you are offended all you have to
do is get up and walk out. That is the only kind of censorship that is