Filthy Talk for Troubled Times

Neil LaBute
Phantom Owl Productions
Basic Mountain

On seeing this 25-year-old play from one of today’s hottest writers Neil LaBute, one can understand why this is the European première.

LaBute has never been afraid to court controversy but this 50-minute play is so overtly frank about sex that many would be scared to stage it.

Filthy Talk for Troubled Times is set in a sleazy club. Once the pole dancer has retired to operate the sound and lighting desk, the evening features the thoughts of two workers and four punters, most delivered in short asides to the audience.

The subject matter throughout is gender politics and power. The two women, played by Zibby Allen and Erin Pineda, believe themselves to be in control of the relationships into which they are drawn, but most would believe that they are deluding themselves.

The men talk big, and much of what they say is gratuitously offensive, but are just as far out of control as the nocturnal ladies when it comes to sexual encounters.

Where the playwright scores is not so much in portraying the working women as victims but by persuading members of the audience to feel a degree of sympathy for the men who exploit them.

Director Matthew Lillard has been blessed with a strong cast from his native America and, with their slick assistance, maintains pace throughout what might otherwise feel like a rather bitty piece.

In any event, this is a worthy revival of an early work that sheds light on the LaBute oeuvre.

This production was first reviewed by Keith Mckenna.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

Are you sure?