The perverted protagonist dons a cocksure expression as the curtains lift to display her in confrontation with her therapist. Laura insists that her seemingly phlegmatic disposition is merely concealing the chaos that lies beneath – an omen for the audience. Meanwhile she is masterfully controlling the situation with her wicked sense of humour, revealing more and more her lustful desire to step into purgatory.
Acclaimed Fleur du Cap Theatre Award-winning actress Emily Child, as Laura, becomes the perfect manifestation of a woman locked into the horror of her past. The play follows Laura through her increasingly rotting life, and with no happy resolve. Every scene begins and ends with her thrusting provocatively into the abyss; from the futile chat with her therapist, via a sickly affair with a man, and an alarming exposé with her sister, to the final and most perverted encounter. The play violates morally and politically correct principles as it resolutely steps not away from darkness but into darkness.
Award-winning playwright, Louis Viljoen, has constructed a high-brow psycho drama with harrowing insights that will make you despise the human condition. The sophistication continues throughout the play in the opposition between the idea of something and the reality of it, between what something is on the surface and what it is beneath, between the past and the present. The play is a brilliant confrontation with the darkness of our psych.
Rational characters like the therapist and the sister throw into sharp relief the demonic character of Laura and her father, who are bonded not only by each other’s blood but also the blood of Laura’s dead mother. The perversion runs deep; a twisted past has left Laura sexually disturbed, dictating her relationships and her construction of self. She provokes because – as her therapist points out – she wants to kill herself before circumstance does, and her life is her own mistake.
Mere existence becomes a central problem in the play. Guy De Lancey as Laura’s father enters the last scene with uncompromising power, untethered to anything and anyone besides his daughter: he is her core. The play becomes all the more distressing as you realise he is fully aware of his power, and the power he has over Laura. She is not born from him but as him, as his. And she willingly succumbs.
The Pervert Laura is full of unsettling sex scenes, psychological anomalies and philosophical jabbing but the darkness is somewhat alleviated by ironic attacks on what it means to exist, and furthermore what it means to exist as a person with a brutally dark past.
Tayla-Paige van Sittert
The Pervert Laura runs at the UCT Little Theatre until 20 December 2014.