BDSM Faust

BDSM Faust

Hands up who is comfortable with one's own kinkiness? A fair few, we would hope.

Hands up who has never had any doubts about it, and particularly its darker edges? Considerably fewer.

"Pain of one's affliction" and "the flaw within" feature greatly in "BDSM Faust", an adaptation of ​Goethe's Faust part 1 by Fisty Cuffs Theatre. Using an old concept in a modern theatrical way, it retells the story of Faust's pact with the devil and its impact on the lives of those around him. Through themes of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM), director Kurt Murray explores one man’s journey into the pleasures of the flesh, brought to an extreme, and the cost that that entails.

Using BDSM’s potency as an art form, Fisty Cuffs offers a powerful counterpoint to the recent explosion of BDSM into popular culture. They neither damn nor praise BDSM practices but rather skillfully explore their application in live performance.

Iulia Benze is inspired as Gretchen whose innocence is lost through enslavement, submission, and bondage (both of the mind and the flesh). Cast well and daring greatly, she is convincing both as a wide-eyed innocent and on all fours, conflicted in her ecstasy and with a flogger between her teeth. Her bound breasts alone, as one member of the audience remarked, make the ticket worth its price - this is quadrupled by her performance.

Alex Rex is the she-devil version of the Mephistopheles, complete with the most curious footwear. Thomas Thoroe as Faust is intriguing, particularly after he dons his leathers. Paula Brett and Leon Wander also hold up well, and make repeated appearances during the performance.

The devil, of course, is in the detail.

Much as we loved live score by Noko (who rose to fame in Apollo 440), folk sing-along coming from Rag Factory's other spaces did nothing to complement his electric guitar, or the mood of the performance. We shuddred at the green plastic dildo (though this may well have been the intended effect). Bondage aficionados could not help but notice that while some single column ties were accomplished competently enough during the performance, there appeared to be more fumbling with rope than perhaps justified by its symbolic (rather than practical) role.

Any such critique, though true enough, would entirely miss the point.

Any piece of worthwhile performance provides both enjoyment and an opportunity for reflection, and stays in memory long after the lights go off. For all its rough edges - and also because of them - this indeed is the case with "BDSM Faust".

We left in a contemplative mood, and have stayed so, with others also amused, tickled, and at times pushed to the edge of their comfort zone.

"BDSM Faust" is an unusual, creative and important combination of the classical text, fetish culture and performance art. We would see it performed more often and to bigger audiences - so check it out next time.