Some art, honestly, confuses the shit out of me. Naked Lunch, for example. No matter where I opened it or how many times I read it, I still had no idea what was going on. There were glimmers of comprehension, quickly dashed by random outspurts of mugwump jizzum. At best this was boring, and at worst frustrating. With Fefu and Her Friends, as well, I had no idea what was going on most of the time. I would catch threads, only to be thrown by dreams of lecherous doctors, sex angels and assorted hallucinations. At worst, this style is dull and pretentious. At best, however, it dumps a bunch of stuff in your brain that leaves your neurons spinning.
Fefu is ostensibly a play about 8 women gathered in a house. The house has rooms, and the play moves throughout those rooms. The audience moves through 4 side stages in all, which might be annoying – except the ushers are really hot girls. The stages are interesting in that you get the sensation of sharing private moments. Not private in the sense that the other actors are off-stage, but private in that the other actors are actually out of earshot. Some of the actors walk between stages, binding the scenes together. For the first part of the play I was a bit confused and bored, but the scene that drew my attention was a solo scene in the bedroom. There was a psychosomatically crippled character, feverish and hallucinating in bed. That performance must’ve been really difficult – faking seizures alone, and in front of an uncomfortably small slice of the audience. She was very good as Julia though, and strangely affecting.
Some quotes that I’ve found are,
A black cat started coming to my kitchen. He’s awfully mangled and big. He is missing an eye and his skin is diseased. At first I was repelled by him, but then, I thought, this is a monster that has been sent to me and I must feed him. And I fed him. One day he came and shat all over my kitchen. Foul diarrhea. He still comes and I still feed him. I am afraid of him. (Emma kisses Fefu) How about a little lemonade? (Fefu)
[Men] are well together. Women are not . . . Women are restless with each other . . . either chattering to keep themselves from making eye contact, or else, if they don’t chatter, they avert their eyes . . . as if a god once said, “and if they recognize each other, the world will be blown apart.” (Christina)
Woman is not a human being. She is: 1 â€” A mystery. 2 â€” Another species. 3 â€” As yet undefined. 4 â€” Unpredictable . . . Women’s spirit is sexual. That is why after coitus they dwell in nefarious feelings. Because that is their natural habitat . . . And [women] take those feelings with them to the afterlife where they corrupt the heavens, and they are sent to hell where through suffering they may shed those feelings and return to earth as a man. (Julia)
… these from a valiant attempt at understanding the play by Long Pauses.
Another idea that struck me was when Fefu talked about being fascinated by revulsion. ‘In the opening act, she explains her fascination with revulsion, contrasting a “smooth and dry and clean” exterior with the slimy, fungal, worm-infested underside hidden beneath. Despite her attempts to disguise her own self-loathing â€” “Well, who is ready for lunch?” she asks, quickly changing the subject â€” it is the exposure of that dangerous underside that determines so much of the action in the play’.
I often feel like there’s a world of decay and bad smells and trouble that we simply ignore. You sense it the most if something goes wrong in public – like microphone feedback at a conference or throwing up in class. There’s this awful _pressure_ that comes when you break the social illusion just a little bit – to show that we’re messy, noxious, and half-dead beings. Cultures don’t even allow you to use words that describe defecation or sex, anything that would draw back the veil. I was interested in the Julia character because she simply gave up. She was paralyzed, but there was no physical injury. A hunter killed a deer, and she fell. She is tormented by voices and seems to have gone from someone described as ‘strong and fearless’ to an invalid. At one point Fefu shakes her and tells her that she has no courage, to get up. But she doesn’t.
If there was a central character it was Julia for me, but I still can’t claim any real understanding of the play. I’ve always thought that Art is precisely things you _don’t_ get, ideas that are new and make connections you don’t understand. I enjoy The Bold and The Beautiful and Pro Wrestling ’cause they work old, comfortable grooves in my brain. Weird plays and Art often fire haphazardly, not catching on to anything. When it does, however, it is a nice sensation, though often disjointed. Perhaps after 14 or so random concussions you might be able to stitch together all these random observations into something ‘functional’, but the journey is rather fun. I can say that I left the theatre invigorated and thinking, which is what I want out of a play. Here are a few more reviews: