Real Work, Inc., at Cafe Voltaire.
Two would-be porn kings might once have aspired to be serious filmmakers. They speak of Aristotelian unities, dramatic action, and “engaging the audience’s moral sensibilities.” One of them almost folds when a key piece of equipment malfunctions–“I have to get this in one take!”–but the prop in need of repair is a chain saw, and the project is a snuff movie.
Playwright Neil Labute writes passable Mamet-Pinter dialogue, which Will Carpenter and David Castellani deftly recite. It’s possible that all three genuinely think they’re making an antiporn statement. But simply incorporating a few video bites of demure, submissive females condemning fuck flicks (but not those who watch them) does not make the message in Ravishes any more complex than “murder for erotic entertainment is a dirty business”–a point we would have conceded before an hour’s exposure to two cold-blooded numb-nuts plotting their atrocity as clumsily as a pair of teenagers playing Night Trap.
“I don’t revel in it,” says one auteur of his occupation. “But I wallow in it up to my chinny-chin-chin.” Ravishes offers playgoers an opportunity to wallow and afterward deceive themselves into calling the wallow a shudder, but it doesn’t offer much else.