Flawbored’s bitingly satirical It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure is raucously brilliant success at the VAULT Festival
“I am not disabled, society disables me”
First things first, book for It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure right now as it is deservedly selling out its performances. This is the type of show where you wanna be able to say I was there, for if there were any justice in the world then this should blow Flawboard up into Mischief Theatre levels of success. And I’m not just saying that because they’re disabled. Or because I’m disabled. It really is just one of the funniest shows of the year so far.
Its opening sequence encapsulates the show and Flawbored’s approach perfectly. As a disability-led company reconceiving how access can and should be better integrated into theatre, they open with a description of the arrangements made for the different access needs identified – sets and performers are audio-described, captions are introduced, content warnings provided…then, non-disabled audience members asked to turn around to mimic visual impairments, one of the performers takes himself on a touch tour for the front row, the captions start talking back…
It is perfectly managed chaos and fricking hilarious. But even as we’re put at ease and feel able to laugh, the underscoring of serious intent is unmistakeable – these are real issues facing real people and most theatres offer a mere handful of accessible performances if that. As It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure progresses into the show proper, its aim becomes society at large, lampooning corporate attempts to monetise identity politics whilst skewering the notion of “able anxiety”, the performative dance of understanding what it must be like to be disabled, easily addressed through company-wide re-learning workshops.
Writer/performers Samuel Brewer (blind and Australian!), Aarian Mehrabani (blind and gay and Iranian) and Chloe Palmer (a white woman) are mercilessly fantastic across the hour. Slipping between characters and ‘themselves’, always commenting on something or other, they deftly handle the metatheatrics. The show is never less than entirely inclusive but it is also unafraid take us to some dark places – at one point Brewer quips “do you know what it is like to be out-satirised by real life?” and then hits us with a ferocious one-two of extremeness, first real-life, then fictional, both shocking.
It’s the humour that stays with you though – the gag about putting your hand up, the jabs at the Art Council and sycophantic arts media, poor hapless Helen from HR, the all-powerful John the Captioner (a spin-off in the making, surely!), this is belly-achingly funny and with such purpose as well. Go now, get your badge and then you’ll be able to say ‘I saw it first’. I mean, if you can see. Sorry, I mean ‘I experienced it first’. Whoops, maybe I need one of those workshops…