Fri, Jan 10, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Role reversal as social commentary

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

The sexes find themselves at sixes and sevens in a new interpretation of David Hare's Blue Room.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF TAIWAN ARTISTS HOUSE.

David Hare's script Blue Room, based on Arthur Schnitzler's fin de siecle La Ronde, grabbed international entertainment headlines when Nicole Kidman starred in its London and New York performances in 1999. It was Kidman's nude performance, not the play's content, that was in the spotlight.

The director of Taiwan Artists' House (台灣藝人館) Wu Hsiao-fen's (吳小分) adaptation of Blue Room has neither nudity nor celebrities in the cast, but offers greater depth about gender roles than its original version, which focused more on the search for love through sex and the emptiness it leaves behind.

Re-titled God Damn Blue (藍色吧), the script switches the sex of all characters. Therefore, in the 10 acts, it is a female taxi driver, a male prostitute, a female politician and seven others who cross each other's paths.

Using a daisy chain structure, the play opens with the banter between a female taxi driver and a male prostitute in a park. Saying that she's spent all her money on her children's tuition fees, the driver flirts with the soliciting prostitute, persuading him that she's sexually attractive. The prostitute is then willing to have sex with her for free. They undress. The stage cuts to black. Just before the lights come back on, a screen shows 00'05" -- how long their sex act has lasted.

When they reappear, the two characters' attitudes have changed. The taxi driver is now in a hurry to go back to work. The prostitute tries and fails to get her to tell him her name. He can only cry out behind her when she drives away.

In the next act, the taxi driver hooks up with a legislative assistant at a night club, and in the next, he is seduced by his boss' daughter. The pairing goes on in a daisy chain until all 10 characters have experienced a sense of loss.

The sex switch is not really shocking in today's Taiwan. What's more interesting is the fact that director Wu hsiao-feng has the female characters take the initiative in sex.

Women have become more assertive in relationships over the years. However, sex seems to be the last test for a truly brave woman. Even today, a woman who proposes sex to men is still frowned upon, however independent she is. The oppression of female sexuality in society contributes greatly to the popularity of Sex and the City. "Women are happy to see open depictions of female sexuality," said Wu.

God Damn Blue will be performed at 7:30pm today, tomorrow and Sunday at Kuling Street Theater, located at 2, Lane 5, Kuling St. Matinee shows are at 2:30pm tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets are NT$400 and available at Acer ticketing outlets.

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