Thursday, March 19, 2009

Truly Obscene Thrills / Violet Blue: Local theater company The Thrillpeddlers delivers wonderfully pornographic Parisian Grand Guignol:

Porno theater sounds like it's either going to be a total turn-off, or a trip to see live acting onstage that just sort of leaves you feeling vaguely uncomfortable. But the intention of Grand Guignol is to make you feel extremely uncomfortable, and The Thrillpeddlers have it down to a delightfully campy (and sexy) art while following the rich tradition of the genre. The theater itself is custom-built to keep you closer to the action than necessary, and the vignettes performed, while direct translations from their original scripts, deal with the most impolite subject matter possible. Violence, madness, hysteria, disease, murder in every possible form and crazy, outrageous, and especially really gross-out sex is standard fare for Grand Guignol, whose origins date back to 1897.

Back then, the Theatre du Grand Guignol was founded with much blasphemy in a former chapel in Paris and it was not only customary to splash the audience with gore, but one director even counted his successes on how many ladies fainted in the audience per each evening's performance. The actress Paula Maxa, during her career at the Grand Guignol (circa 1917) was known as "the most assassinated woman in the world." The theater would typically feature 5-6 vignettes a night as "hot and cold showers" that alternated between grisly extreme horror and bawdy sex farces.