Death is the New Porn

Authentic, thrilling and (overly) ambitious, Death is the New Porn is a fine piece of theatre. Jack Elliot’s new play goes deep into the lives of its characters, exposing their hypocrisies and frailties with brutal honesty. The performances are wonderful and the dialogue is sharp, but thematically it has bitten off more than it can chew. The resulting choking convulsions inevitably detract from what is an otherwise thoroughly entertaining show.

It is part brilliant exposé of seedy Edinburgh low life, part exploration of vigilante justice.

We follow the lives of Edinburgh’s prostitutes, vigilantes and alcoholics - all dealing with their demons, though not very well. There is more than a whiff of Irvine Welsh-style grisliness to the piece. Although it has moments of humour, there are few of hope. The former allows us to forgive the latter. An hilarious skit reimagines the life of a prostitute in terms of movie genres. It sounds tasteless and it is, but it is terrifically funny too.

All the actors acquit themselves well here. Elliott, in particular, is great as Tom, a man trying not to let the cracks in his psyche get any bigger. A sense of menace is always palpable beneath his understated performance. Rosie Milne also does well in her two roles. Her trajectory from teetotaller to singing drunk as Lydia is fluid and graceful.

The main problem, however, is that Death is the New Porn doesn’t really know what it wants to be. It is part brilliant exposé of seedy Edinburgh low life, part exploration of vigilante justice. The play would have do better if it chose to be one or the other, as these themes never sufficiently meet, giving the play an oddly fractured feeling. An interesting premise - the possible morality of vigilantism - is introduced but then completely sidelined for the rest of the play. The characters passingly refer to it once in a while, but apparently the task of killing paedophiles takes up relatively little of their attention. They have awkward family lives to deal with, after all.

Nevertheless, Death is the New Porn is a confident debut for its young company Blazing Hyenas. The show is endlessly gripping; they are ones to watch. 

Reviews by Rory Mackenzie

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Three self-styled vigilantes decide to seek revenge for anyone who has been the victim of a brutal crime. But in their zeal to take an eye for an eye, their long standing friendships come under increasing pressure. As the cracks begin to show and old demons come back to haunt them, the dynamic of the three slowly breaks down, leaving this once tight group questioning their actions. Just how far can they take their ideals? And having committed their acts of vengeance, can anything ever be the same again?