Review: It's a Motherf**king Pleasure (Underbelly Bristo Square)
Razor sharp dark comedy on disability and identity
“You can’t make jokes about anything these days!” the cis straight non-disabled white men cry. Oh, how hard it must be to crack a joke without it targeting queer people, people of colour, and particularly disabled people. But for anyone willing to put aside their determination to belittle minorities for laughs, disability-led ensemble FlawBored shows that there is a much more worthy, and frankly much funnier group of people to make fun of – guilt-ridden “allies”. In It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure FlawBored take identity politics of disability to task by imagining how they could not only challenge ableism – but profit from it.
Photo Credit: Alex Brenner
But first, accessibility – can everyone in the audience enjoy the performance? It starts off tame – audio descriptions, captioning,– then becomes more and more ridiculous – like spotlighting one audience member in particular so they have better lighting, and having a non-disabled person face the back wall to “check their privilege”. Most shows would make this joke as an excuse; to show that any accessibility efforts at all are stupid and pandering. Here, it is exemplary of how the show is actually laughing at people and systems who go to absurd lengths to look like they are accommodating disabled people without actually asking what they need. The line between accessibility and absurdity is one of the many taboos FlawBored aren't afraid to confront.
The performance is full of these meta interruptions, which turns the making of the show into as much a focal point as the show itself. For some, this will seem indulgent, but everything you want from the plot is right there in the fourth-wall breaks. One thing for sure is that when the plot is in play, you cannot predict how dark it will go. We learn that a world in which people profit from virtue-signalling allies is not so imaginary after all, to the extent that in order to have an ending that is truly stranger than reality it has to be taken to a nauseating “logical conclusion”. It makes you think about the consequences of living in a capitalist society that has more to gain from exacerbating able-bodied anxieties than meeting the needs of disabled people.
Photo Credit: Alex Brenner
But that is not to say that this is just a performance to make you think. In fact, the title tells you exactly what you are in for – a mother**king pleasure. It has jokes that are so well observed and delivered they will make you wheeze. I challenge any audience member who thinks going to disability-lead theatre is virtue-signalling in itself to attend this performance and not enjoy themselves. It stings to know just how much of it is influenced by real trends, attitudes, and anxieties that disabled people encounter, but that is precisely what dark humour is for – to make it all bearable. Five stars.
Whispers from the Crowd: "I think there were a lot of jokes that if you're not visibly-impaired you wouldn't get. I found it very relatable, it was a great mix of thought-provoking and laughter."
It's a Motherf**king Pleasure has completed its run at Underbelly Bristo Square