Review: De Fuut

Monologuing in support of paedophilia does nothing more than shock

★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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De Fuut. Image: Mundialphoto
Published 17 Aug 2018

Bastiaan Vandendriessche's solo performance consists of a monologuing summer camp leader who devises sexualised games for children and is obsessed with two of his teenaged campers. If this isn't revolting enough, he justifies his actions by comparing them with worse behaviour from other leaders. On top of that, according to him, all people fantasise about other people, regardless of their age.

This incredibly disturbing story, though carefully constructed and well performed, is abhorrent in its content on every level. It is impossible to morally justify paedophilia, and this character's view of the act as subversive and sexually freeing is inarguably wrong. There is no ambiguity in his eroticising of children and the girls' supposed willingness to flirt and interact with him physically is unjustifiable. If it’s attempting irony through the inclusion of the character’s own abuse as a child and his unwillingness to recognise this as the root of his own actions, it doesn’t cut through. There’s nothing ironic or clever about cycles of abuse – they’re tragic and/or horrific.

So what is Vandendriessche trying to achieve with this play? This is never answered. The performance does not come across as ironic. Other than being a deplorable character, there is no outright condemnation of paedophilia in the text that isn't then followed by justification of the main character's own actions.

The staging is constricted to a small corner of a larger space, making this performance more of a one-sided conversation. Though this is more inclusive, it also heightens the disgust generated from the story. It's a powerful choice, but it doesn't add any further clarity as to what the point of this show is. If Vandendriessche is aiming for shock, he's achieved that. If he is trying to communicate anything other than justifying paedophilia, that doesn't come across at all. The world doesn't need another Lolita.