IT’S A MOTHERF**KING PLEASURE at the VAULT Festival
“The cast are all entirely charming, pushing the audience to a gentle discomfort whilst keeping the tone silly and fun”
VAULT Festival has an offering of nearly 600 shows across three months. I’m reviewing a fair few, and whilst some were picked because the blurb piqued my interest, 600 shows is a lot to sift through. So I must admit, quite a few were picked because someone recommended them, as is the case with It’s a Motherf***ing Pleasure. But as the cast rather gleefully points out, this is the first performance of the show, so how on earth could the ES or Lyn Gardner know if it were any good, or indeed “important”?
Aarian Mehrabani, one of three cast members claims this is a perfect of example of non-disabled guilt, recommending a completely unknown show likely just because it’s created by FlawBored, a disability-led theatre company. In this instance it’s worked in their favour- the auditorium is packed. But It’s a Mother F***ing Pleasure seeks to work through some of the darker consequences of this impulse, and those who are happy to take advantage of it.
They also readily admit it’s a difficult conversation to navigate, spending the first ten minutes desperately ensuring that the audience’s access requirements are taken care of, and the last ten minutes apologising profusely to everyone they’ve no doubt offended.
And somewhere in the middle they tell a story that, whilst not technically true, has no doubt taken place in some form or other in multiple corporate offices: a PR agency has been accused of being ableist after one of their influencers has said something questionable on their channel. And, of course, rather than think about how this has happened and seek to educate themselves, they decide to monetise this opportunity and hire a brown, gay, blind influencer to become the face of Revision, a series of blind ‘experiences’ to sell to the guilt-ridden seeing public.
The cast are all entirely charming, pushing the audience to a gentle discomfort whilst keeping the tone silly and fun. The idea of ICAD- Integrated Creative Audio Description, which describes, not just what’s happening, but the vibe, is genuinely brilliant and I look forward to other shows employing it in earnest.
The plot itself starts strong, funny and relatable, and necessarily takes a sharp turn off a cliff. But it heroically saves itself with lashings of self-awareness. The reviewers in the audience are warned that should they give any less than four stars, everyone will think they’re a c*nt for criticising a disability-led theatre company. And on the way out, the audience is offered ‘I’m an ally’ badges, and printed suggestions of enthusiastic tweets, to show that they’re not ableist.
I, of course, would never be swayed by such things. Sure, I took a badge to show everyone, as Chloe Palmer tells me, that I’m not ableist anymore, and that I’m better than everyone else. But I would never give a skewed rating no matter how blind the cast is. I just happened to really like it. Funny, chaotic and wincingly relevant.
Reviewed on 21st February 2023
by Miriam Sallon
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