BWW Review: PUTTANA, Hen And Chickens Theatre
Oskar is 32 years old. Or maybe he's 26. It depends on the man he's sleeping with that night. Oskar Hartman recounts his escapades and details the spicy sex life he's lead during the run-up to his 30s.
Directed by Jonna Wikström, Puttana is a glimpse into sex addiction and dating in the 21st century. He is very open and honest as he confesses his desperate way of trying to fill the void with temporary excitement and satisfaction. Not seeming to care about dangers, he becomes the inanimate sex object for all kinds of men in - one supposes - the hope of feeling something.
The monologue feels, however, clunky and presumptuous. There's a vein of arrogance that runs across the whole piece, which results in the hindrance of showing any kind of sympathy towards him. He owns up to his self-destructive tendencies but only excuses his behaviours instead of looking into the psychology that lies behind them.
His life of drunkenness and lies doesn't sound appealing nor acts as a cautionary tale and, by the time he says that he was doing it to cope with anxiety, he's already lost the audience. Perhaps Hartman simply isn't the entertainer his story needs in order to land properly, because what he delivers is an uncertain performance of his own material.
We might be happy to hear that he feels better now and he's looking for a boyfriend who cares, but the self indulgence that permeates his tale from the start doesn't allow for anything more. Too repetitive to hit his goals, Hartman reiterates that he's aware of his looks and that men like him a lot, that he used to go to club after club to repeat the same experience over and over again, and that he used to get online to meet people all over the world.
His actions want to speak for his struggles but at this stage they simply don't, and the show becomes an ego trip more than anything else. Although Puttana presents many issues, it conceals a social critique that goes nearly unnoticed and that definitely needs to be explored more.
Between the superficiality of hook-up culture and his sexual exploits, he uncovers the obsession with beauty and the perception of masculinity in the gay community. It's a shame that the most interesting reflection is lost amidst booze and deception.