It was surprising to find ‘The End’ by the Doors listed as their second most popular song by ultimateclassicrock.com, but it proves that we love a Freudian drama.
In the case of The Pervert Laura, we have Jung to thank for casting his mind beyond Freud’s patriarchal confines.
Like ‘The End’, The Pervert Laura’s opening bars are liltingly dark and haunting as the curtain rises upon Laura and her shrink seated within a stark, monochrome set lit in the most beautiful gloom.
From the first sentence that utters from Emily Child’s filthy mouth we know that Laura is a bitch, determinedly so. This is no led-to-the-light session, it’s a no-holds-barred bare-knuckle cage fight in which Laura is a spitting-mad vixen backed up against the corner of her cage willing to take on a despairing and increasingly frustrated Terry Norton as she battles the social norms evolved by billions of people since we became a bipedal species, or die trying.
She’s unpleasant, sure, very, but no-one is so emphatically uncharismatic without good reason. And of course, therein lies the intrigue, a mystery writer Louis Viljoen unveils through four discrete scenes, two of which are perfectly indiscrete, but Child’s knew what she was getting into when she agreed to work not only with Viljoen – who just won the 2014 Dassies playwright award – but Nicholas Pauling and Guy de Lancey as well, a trio that could make the witches of Macbeth look like teenagers playing dress-up.
Viljoen’s writing is dirty, vicious, and sharp as a skinning knife, but it is de Lancey who is a truly twisted fuck. And if that line makes you feel uncomfortable I don’t suggest you watch the play unless your psyche manages a peculiar mix of prudishness and masochism, in which case you’ll walk out feeling exquisitely tortured.
On stage, de Lancey is charismatic menace personified. A golden demon. Designwise, his light is caliginous, a dusky being that obeys the photon-thin line between illumination and darkness. I suspect if he let himself go he’d run an entire play pitch black.
Laura’s eyes, for instance, are never fully lit, and where the light is upon her face, she is turned away from us, we see her only in profile. She is there, her contorted mind and straightforward psychosis driving the play, but we cannot see into her eyes, in the same way she shies away from the truth of her own desire.
The set is similarly brilliantly stark, serving as a counselor’s office, a motel room, a kitchen and a sitting room, each space adjusting with the removal or addition of a few pieces of furniture, a different placing of a shaded lamp.
The writing, as I’ve said, is tight and sharp, the acting by all is consumate, with Child managing to remain taut and increasingly wrought as she moves toward her decisive act, the design and lighting perfectly evocative, with Viljoen’s sparse direction adding weight to every interaction.
Morrisson said it well: “There’s danger on the edge of town…weird scenes inside the goldmine.”
Walk on down the hall and look inside.
The Pervert Laura has only three shows left at the Little Theatre until 20 December.