You can sense when an audience is tense even without turning around. It’s tangible. It’s a feeling that must be the result of many subconscious perceptions: the way people laugh, the way they sit, the way they breathe. Perhaps there’s some kind of ‘awkward’ pheromone, evolved to warn others of potential social discomfort. Perhaps it’s just the seats in Underbelly’s Belly Button, as comfortable as those cursory bum-rests you find under bus shelters.
Paul and Watson are extremely daring with their candid, gross-out vignettes.
There was definite tension during much of Pomme is French for Apple. Normally this would suggest something is wrong, but in this case it was more difficult to interpret. A tense audience doesn’t always mean something hasn’t been thought through. Sometimes it belies a legitimate aim: to shock people into thinking about something in a different way.
Liza Paul and Bahia Watson have an agenda: to re-examine our relationship with our bodies and the way it influences our culture and sexual identity. It is a work of feminism that makes an appeal to male and female audience members alike: we have a lot to learn about our bodies. And about chat-up lines. And ‘game’. I learned a lot during this interesting hour, as a dichotomy is suggested between the pristine bodily ideal imposed on women by media and culture, and the realities of an operating human body and its smells, secretions and embarrassing tangles with ill-fitting clothing.
Paul and Watson are extremely daring with their candid, gross-out vignettes. The show begins with an explanation of the title - ‘Pomme’ sounds like the West Indian word ‘Pum’, a blunt term for female genitalia and well utilised pink scarves allow ‘Pums’ to be embodied; much of the material is gleefully obscene. However, once the nature of the show is exposed – and this is fairly early on – the humour begins to be carried by the performers rather than the material. Some of the more traditional sketches (mother disapproves of daughter dating) would be totally superfluous if it were not for Paul and Watson’s wonderfully skilful performances.
Another problem with this show is that the nature of the material will only really appeal to those who already share, or are at least sympathetic with, Paul and Watson’s message. After the first few sketches there are moments that feel slightly tired; without developing new perspectives, the point is simply repeated.
Paul and Watson know that people don’t often like being made to question their thoughts, and deserve praise for taking a significant risk.This is a far more intelligent and well-executed sketch show than most. But without a deeper exposure of the relationship between its comedy and its politics, Pomme is French for Apple isn’t quite the ripe, delicious fruit it could have been.