Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 7 March 2017

Review: Puppy at Vault festival 2017

The Vaults ⋄ 23 Feb and 2 March 2017

Feminist porn and a different type of fairy tale: Daniel Perks reviews a work in progress by Naomi Westerman at the Vault festival.

Daniel Perks
Puppy at Vault festival 2017. Photo: Melanie Lawston.

Puppy at Vault festival 2017. Photo: Melanie Lawston.

Two women meet and fall in love while engaging in a spot of dogging – the start to every fairytale romance. Well, it is in Puppy at least, a work-in-progress play by Naomi Westerman. Jaz (Rebekah Murrell) is nervous, new to the scene; Maya (Lilly Driscoll) is self-assured, a well-known name with the regulars. Westerman’s script opens with a distinctly middle class feel, as if dogging is a typical after-work activity that middle-aged couple engage in weekly – Mondays is Yoga, Tuesdays is Dogging and Wednesdays is band practice.

Jaz (Murrell) gives the most believable performance – initially off-kilter but overall comfortable with her character, her behaviours and her truth. Maya (Driscoll), however, is the focus of the story, an actor who redefines the industry by making feminist porn and spearheads the face-sitting protest outside Westminster as it attempts to clamp down on the porn industry, ironically by banning nipple clamps. The story shines a new light on that reported by the media in recent years, but the execution is far from perfect. For a show that requires a free and frank discussion about the adult entertainment industry, Driscoll in particular is monotone in her delivery. She talks about porn as if it were an academic discussion point, devoid of sentiment and emotion.

Parts of the Puppy have a better flow, particularly an audition-type situation where porn stars are required to engage in more and more extreme acts, all in the name of selling videos. The industry reaches a point at which the only way it can generate views is too become more alternative, more derogatory and ultimately more dangerous. Spanking; rimming; ropes, all replaced now with defecation; strangulation; sadistic domination. So Maya’s new brand of feminist porn, where the women can choose the scenes, the partners, the levels to which they are prepared to go, is an empowering turn of events. But even this doesn’t receive the attention it deserves – the message is lost in a conversation between Maya and Jaz one morning.

Puppy is a work-in-progress so there’s plenty of opportunity for further development. At present, it needs to focus on exploring the topics at the heart of the story in more depth.

To find out more about Puppy, click here

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Daniel Perks

Daniel has been involved in theatre ever since moving to London and is now a full-time freelance journalist and writer, focussing on the arts and culture sector. He has written for a number of publications and is currently the Theatre Editor of Miro Magazine, as well as a Super Assessor for the Off-West End Awards (The Offies). He is particularly interested in fringe work ranging from operas to new musicals to solo theatre performances. He blogs at Culture By Night (danielperks13.wordpress.com).

Review: Puppy at Vault festival 2017 Show Info


Produced by Little But Fierce Theatre Company

Directed by Rafaella Marcus

Written by Naomi Westerman

Cast includes Lilly Driscoll; Rebekah Murrell; Maria Austin; Benjamin Chandler; Andrew Lawston; Jo Wickham

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