It's A Motherf**king Pleasure - Soho Theatre
Monetising able-anxiety 101
In many productions, access needs are forgotten or duct-taped on last minute, but the charming new company FlawBored have challenged that practice and moulded the accessibility features to be an integral part of their show resulting in an enhanced experience for all audience members that is also downright hilarious. Swarming with cynicism and wit, A Motherf**king Pleasure is a resounding success of inclusion and silliness.
Before the core of the play begins, Samuel Brewer, Aarian Mehrabani, and Chloe Palmer (both writers and performers) introduce us to their accessible aims and the social model of disability - where it is society that creates impediments for disabled people, not their disability. This reframing adds important context to their approach to theatre-making but equally sets the tone for the evening, inviting us to laugh in tandem with their sarcasm. Early humour comes as they battle with their off-stage captioner John (the captions projected above the actors) as he rudely interjects on the proceedings and when the cast opt to add odd specific details of each other's vibe when dishing out audio descriptions of their appearance - cheekily subverting expectations.
Much of the plot focuses on a hypothetical PR company, RIZE (with a Z) after they ‘did an ableism.’ Reacting in the only plausible way by apologising, and enforcing mandatory training led by the consistently self-atoning Helen Richardson from HR. Disabled talent manager Tim spots an opportunity however and seeks to monetise the guilt of non-disabled people by making disabilities the next fashionable trend, led by a disabled influencer. Steeped in a strong solution of identity politics, this is bound to go well, right?
The cast are fantastic in their comedic delivery, revelling in the fun of poking fun at the non-disabled audience members but at wider society too - even offering tweet templates for us to share after the show because you can’t criticise the disabled show, no one likes that person. They vocalise the internal thoughts many of us have had, the nervousness of saying or doing something wrong for fear of being cancelled or simply causing upset, all of this occurring in a safe environment where mistakes and learning are encouraged.
Chaos ultimately descends on the piece as Tim’s plan goes too far, forcing the cast to obsessively apologise for not just the offence they may have caused in the last hour but any possible offence inferred in their entire existence. Whilst the satire and farce make up much of this production, FlawBored have crafted a show that demolishes stereotypes and gives audiences an accessible way to engage with the disabled community, challenging us to think differently and learn. This very much feels like a proof of concept production, representing the possibility of integrating accessibility into every aspect of a show, elevating the experience for non-disabled and disabled alike. An absolute joy - theatre makers get down to Soho and see what is possible.
Running until 13 May - Tickets
Photography: Alex Brenner