On September 26th I posted a blog here and said I would report back after taking part in an after-show discussion of Bluebeard, currently being performed by Gallivant at the Soho Theatre, London.
Watching Bluebeard again reinforced the powerful performance and engaging writing of the Gallivant team. Both Dr Hilary Abrahams and I were pleased that we had prior warning and had seen the play in Bristol. The question and answer session was interested in engaging the audience in a discussion of the key themes of the play: sexual desire, sexual violence, gender and complicity. From our perspective as gender violence researchers the issues of power and control running throughout the performance were stark. Part of the power of the play comes both from the accurate portrayal of a perpetrator and the complicity of the audience in hearing his story. The perpetrator, who tells us about his violence and crimes against women, also describes in chilling detail how easy it is to begin relationships with these women. Engineering meetings, feigning love, and manipulating from the start, the perpetrator uses normal everyday aspects of the heterosexual love story to ensnare his victims. When they are, as he continually tells the audience, feeling unworthy and useless, their victimhood becomes his excuse for sexual domination and violence.