Whether you are a puritan or a liberal, once you start to think about it, libidinous sexuality seems to be everywhere. In...

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EROTIC THEATRE

Whether you are a puritan or a liberal, once you start to think about it, libidinous sexuality seems to be everywhere. In the interests of coherent research, Elsom has limited his examination of the sexual mores of 20th century Anglo-American society to public presentations, on the theory that the stage is ""a two-way mirror."" Elsom's theater includes society and naturalistic drama, music halls, brothels and strip joints; and his vision of theater-as-ritual resembles the artistic concept of Genet's The Balcony (but without the playwright's ""preoccupation with sado-masochism""). The author analyzes the erotic content of high- and lowbrow entertainment of two specific periods, fin de siecle Britain and post-WW II Britain and America, and works toward a definition of Propriety for those eras. Within this framework, he assesses the contribution of Ibsen, Wilde, Shaw, Coward, Pinero and Wedekind, Sartre, Genet, Miller, Tennessee Williams, O'Neill, Albee, Pinter, underground theatre, Beck and Malina and Warhol. The didactic message is that authoritarian male chauvinism is at the root of all our sick, sick fantasies. Elsom devises a scale by which the relative disgusting-ness of pornography can be measured, and proves by graphs that liberation is in sight. With characteristic humor, he explains: ""If striptease has become less noticeable in our society, it might be a welcome sign that men no longer want to mount women simply because, like Everest, they are there."" An eye-opening confrontation between the spirit of the censor and the steady undercurrent of forbidden desire.

Pub Date: May 16, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Taplinger

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974