Dublin Fringe Festival 2017: Why Won't You Have Sex With Me?
A Rhetorical Question
It may make for a catchy title, and suggest the beginning of a conversation, but Louise Bruton's, one-woman show, “Why Won’t You Have Sex With Me?” is strictly a rhetorical question. For Bruton already has all the answers. Or, to be more precise: the answer. As a woman frequently defined by her wheelchair and disability, but having had no input into how disability is defined, problems arise from the false, and inaccurate, disabled narrative fashioned by those without disability. Or, put plainly: if you’re not disabled it’s your own fault you see disability the way you do. You never discussed it with a disabled person. Or if you did, or tried to, you didn't listen properly. So outright idiots, well intentioned men, and even protective friends, prepare to have your wrist slapped.
What initially feels like a series of reflective diary entries by a Dublin Carrie Bradshaw soon becomes a lecture on the trials, tribulations, and genuine difficulties faced by disabled people negotiating stairs, doorways, and the Tinder scene. Some clever visuals reinforce the lecture context, focusing around what looks like a humourous PowerPoint presentation, with voiceovers helping to assert key points. Bruton delivers her facts and information with a lot of humour, a little nervousness, and a high degree of condescension. For if her lecture makes some valid and important points, the feeling of being talked down to by your better dominates. Which seems odd, for Bruton herself has been frequently talked down to and knows the experience isn't an enjoyable one.
It might make for a neat little reversal shifting from ‘why won't you have sex with me?’ to ‘why the hell would a disabled person have sex with you?’ but it doesn't really promote the awareness, or conversation, Bruton claims to be asking for. “Why Won’t You Have Sex With Me?” may say it wants to encourage talk about sex and disability, but Bruton is doing all the talking and seems to be selectively listening. Successful lovers don’t have too much of a say, and one would imagine they might be worth hearing from. If “Why Won’t You Have Sex With Me?" has information to offer, and ideas to hang it all on, it risks feeling like a lecture from your mother reprimanding you the morning after for the night before. Even if there’s valid points being made, for you might well have behaved like an idiot, and even if you genuinely want to understand, it doesn't help to promote awareness or dialogue when the tone keeps constantly talking you down. As Bruton herself knows only too well.
“Why Won’t You Have Sex With Me?” by Louise Bruton, runs at The Project Arts Centre as part of The Dublin Fringe Festival 2017 until Monday 11th September