Monday, November 9, 2009
I saw David Hoyle's Theatre of Therapy at the Chelsea Theatre this weekend. Based very loosely on Freud's discoveries, it was quite the most overwhelming assault on this tatty little flag we wave and call culture. And not just mainstream culture, no, Mrs Hoyle peels the skin off of gay culture too, and anything else that comes his way (including latecomers).
Tales of heroin addicts, the cheese counter at BHS, killing bullies and fucking your relatives flow, they're woven spontaneously into a mesh with audience interactions, the odd bit of flirtation, rants, videos, and four very committed renditions of anthemic songs. Boredom is not possible, because the show is a terrifying spectacle, almost brutal in the demands it makes on the viewer. If your thoughts waver for a moment, you're lost, it's something akin to descriptions of the Last Judgment (although in those retellings the Lord is not tarting up the awaiting with a tube of red Revlon lipgloss). As for honesty, D. Hoyle takes the cake, I don't think I've ever witnessed someone pour themselves out with such dedication and frankness. In the same way, and with the same intensity that he rips everything and everyone else to shreds, he cuts himself up for you. His heart breaking scream, "Who would want ME, eh?" reverberates profoundly.
There's a very pointed moral (for want of a better word) at work, which forces the audience (again for want of a better word) into the most definitely awkward acknowledgement that we're in this together, and if we don't take it upon ourselves to change the way things are, then no one will. That's not to say this was a love-fest, FAR from it. Mr Hoyle paints no pretty pictures, he is unnervingly honest in his vivisection, dismantling the conscious, pulling off the blinkers and letting us, rather forcing us, see the blackness that we're swimming in. Because, you see, we brought it on ourselves, with our very deliberate insistence on ignoring all those awkward topics we didn't have the guts to face up to. Ms Hoyle however, has more than enough courage for us all, and was ready to seize on any topic however controversial and make radical, offensive statements (even if he didn't agree with them himself) for the sake of starting a conversation.
Verbal abuse is not freedom, but let us remember neither is political correctness. Mr Hoyle is some sort of hybrid of Christ and Judy Garland, what he says he martyrs himself too, he's willing to go as far as it takes to provoke you to think, beyond (way beyond) the realms of taste or any of that jazz. Echoing Penny Arcade who announced "Love is the only radical action still possible," Mrs Hoyle tells us that without love we are nothing. At first it might seem odd that such a beautiful sentiment comes amidst stories of executing babies, rape and demands that all LGBT peoples are armed with guns, but you see, take a flight in Jungian dream logic and you see it's a perfectly sensible statement.
Jung writes that Christianity has given us a very brittle, polarity of good and bad, a myth that has stopped developing and is now actually damaging to the human psyche. He tells us that we must instead not see good and bad as opposites but rather as relative and indeed, one as the completion of the other. Morals and ethics are different things lover. Thinking of Ms Hoyle's insistence that we all, "Stop being religious and start being spiritual," it would seem that his work is much more in line with Jung than Freud. (Sigmund of course had little time for the spiritual, reducing it nearly always to the psycho-sexual, whilst Carl lived a life full of visions, ghosts, precognitive dreams and visitations). Maybe her next show will based on Jung's writings on mandalas and other magic circles? Here's hoping.