Jet Of Blood

Fri 3rd – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Rowan Evans

at 08:42 on 15th Aug 2018

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When a playwright lays their trauma out in the open it can be difficult to review critically. In a time where people are only just being able to speak about being victims of rape, 'Jet of Blood' is distinctly radical. It is the many layers it dresses itself in, however, which obscure the play's otherwise powerful statement. The intensive haze of physical theatre left me bewildered and unsure what to think.

The play unpacks the trauma faced by the playwright and director Mari Moriarty, during and following their rape as a fourteen year old boy. This is enacted in a continuous physical-theatre set piece – with Alexandra Miyashiro playing Moriarty, and Matthew Brown playing B, the rapist.

The two actors, while relentless in their energy, were not as convincing as the heavy subject material demanded. The portrayal of sexual violence did not feel as uncomfortable as it should have done. This showed in the way the actors clambered over the bed – feeling awkward rather than assured.

The major shortfall with 'Jet of Blood' is that there was too much going on. The masks worn by Brown were so numerous that any implied meaning was lost. The videos were so short they often felt out of place (such as the twenty seconds of CGI porn). And music that was playing just stopped, leaving a hanging feeling.

The scenes appeared as a stitched-together patchwork of Moriarty’s memory. They flashed in and out, representing the fractured memories of trauma, but in a way that lacked focus. Even the most powerful moment – the ending monologue – only brought into focus how chaotic the rest of the production was.

The show was most successful in these intimate moments. The damage that sexual abuse can cause reverberates through the final moments of the play; but these are moments that should be left for the viewer to experience rather than for me to describe.

I do believe that at its heart 'Jet of Blood' is an essential and courageous statement from Moriarty, and this should not be understated. It is disappointing, however, that the play ended up stumbling over itself in its frenetic delivery.

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Hugh Kapernaros

at 10:01 on 15th Aug 2018

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Gearing up to see 'Jet of Blood', the part of me that slyly wants to be disturbed by dark stuff was excited. Graphic violence? I’m ready. Explicit sexual content? Bring it on. Drug use? Try me. But walking out of “Jet of Blood” at the ZOO Santuary theatre, I wasn’t left with a sick satisfaction, but a sense of awe. Playwright Mari Moriarty’s real life story of teenage rape and abuse is brutally honest, shockingly explicit and profoundly courageous - a poignant exploration of male sexual abuse survivors in a post #me-too society.

The creator holds nothing back in his depiction of the realities of rape culture in the modern world. Think Grindr screenshots, real-life Instagram profiles, homemade sex tapes, evocations of Miley Cyrus’s creepy performance of “We Can’t Stop” at the Grammy’s, naming and shaming. The intention is to shock and confront; the audience backed into a corner to face their complicity and spectatorship in a time of victim blaming and denial. Surreal sequences of aggressive physical theatre, multimedia, dance and a disturbing rape scene are tied together to create a palpably tense atmosphere and a truly disturbing performance.

Young actress Alexandra Miyashiro’s stage presence was undeniable, and her gender-bending embodiment of the creator’s real life self was no easy accomplishment. Diving around the stage and into the crowd, flitting from simulated masturbation to screams of agony, she was dedicated and tenacious. While her slightly clunkier male lead didn’t share the same fluidity, they held undeniable chemistry and managed to convey the deep complexities of an abusive relationship. Despite great acting, Miyashiro’s casting as a male confused more than it impacted, and the justification that we more readily “listen to a prettier face” didn’t hold much weight.

The deep personal nature of the show is indeed it’s resounding feature, but it was undermined by occasional productional flaws. Overly cryptic dialogue and extended abstract physical movement pieces confused the plot line. An incongruous Spongebob Squarepants “5 years later” sample went over most of the audience’s heads, and attempts to break the fourth wall felt forced, at best. However, with an excellent soundtrack and a killer finale, the power of the playwrights’ confession outweighed its flaws in execution.

'Jet of Blood' feels cathartic, therapeutic and retributive, as the artist lays himself out bare and demonstrates an aggressive new wave of what it means to be a survivor. Although not an exceptional piece of theatre, it is exciting, bold and brave.

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