Went to see De Sade at the Fringe Festival last night, along with Striker. Jadis was in town also so we grabbed a third ticket. The blurb for the show is:
de Sade, a tour through the depths of the darkest mind that ever existed, premieres as part of the 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival and will be performed from 19-22 February at the Cavern Club Allen Street. Alexander Sparrow – writer and comedian – will become the Marquis de Sade for four nights only. For everything you need to know about fetishism, sadism, and everything in between, de Sade will give you your fill on the writer of 120 Days of Sodom and Juliette.
Sparrow says, “The Marquis spent most of his life in prison, but imagine if he hadn’t. Imagine a school of sadism and rioting. This show will divide the masses – he wanted a republic, he wanted complete sexual freedom, he wanted a world that was impossible to build for the destruction it would cause.”
A comedian and writer on the Wellington circuit, Sparrow’s show is going to be a insane mix of sadistic acts, fetishism, history, and wit. “de Sade wasn’t just disgusting – he could be hilarious and cheeky too. There’s more to him than his books.”
This is an hour of chaotic ecstasy from the king of sadism himself. It’s time to tear apart society and screw in the streets. It’s time to rid ourselves of the monarchy. “It’s time, dear reader, to have a little fun.”
You descend into the Cavern Club and the first thing you note is the naked man lying on the table at the front of the room. We sensibly decide not to sit in the front row and enjoy the couch at the back.
Sadly for the women in the audience the nudity is temporary, which is possibly not a bad thing as Sparrow’s mother and sister were in the audience. We learn this as the Marquis talks about how he would like to have sex with everyone in the audience (and then breaking the wall mentions he didn’t realise his mother and sister would be here).
Sparrow does a fun charismatic portrayal of the Marquis. He rants against his mother-in-law who got him committed, and talks about the awfulness of a man so devoted to sexual pursuits being locked in prison by himself for most of his life.
In case it is not obvious from the show blurb, this is not a show for prudes or shrinking violets. We see his masturbation calendar where he indicates he has had to masturbate 400 times in the last six months. He the admits that when you break it down to a daily basis, it isn’t that impressive!
The audience get pulled into the show in various ways. At one point he is talking about his novel Justine. Jadis helpfully offered that the book is too long (1000 pages) and his eyes light up at having found an audience member who has (presumably) read the book. This leads to him asking Jadis to go up on stage and beat him with a crop. The unfortunate thing for the Marquis is that Jadis is a former provincial cricketer and can swing a bat quite well. After a couple of painful blows, he substitutes her for his mother!
During one part of the show he exhorts the audience to look at the person next to you, find some features that are attractive, and tell them what they are and how much you would like to have sex with them. This pushed Striker and I into fits of laughter, as she works for me, and I’m pretty sure a conversation along the lines of that proposed by the Marquis would breach a number of employment laws! He later asked if Jadis and I were married, and I explained that the three of us worked together and this was a work outing. He said he was very keen to come work at Curia also!
So the show was lots of fun, and the audience participation hilarious. Despite what you may think, it was a bit tame. I think Sparrow could have pushed the boundaries more. The first segment was a bit slow to warm up also. But Sparrow did well to keep the audience engaged and laughing, and slightly nervous. It was a fun classic Fringe show.
The show ends with him answering the question whether he has regrets and whether given the chance he would do it differently. I’ll leave it to you to find out the answer, if you go to the show. It’s on for three more nights.