U.K.'s Edinburgh Festival Features Much Nudity Onstage

News   U.K.'s Edinburgh Festival Features Much Nudity Onstage

Nudity sells, whether it's in Sir Peter Hall's 1994 production of Hamlet starring Stephen Dillane, or, more recently, assorted American actresses in The Graduate at the Gielgud Theatre.

Gielgud himself appeared naked in his late eighties in "Prospero's Books," Peter Greenaway's film version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but avoided doing so onstage.

Given that mainstream London theatre flashes private parts at audiences — most memorably so, perhaps, in Les Parents Terribles at the National, where a young Jude Law stepped naked from a bath onstage and slowly dried himself off — it isn't surprising that at Edinburgh, where each of the 1,400 or so shows are desperate to attract publicity, nudity and simulated (if not stimulated) sex are acceptable tools (as it were) for attracting an audience.

Among this year's offerings are Telling Wilde Tales and Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy, both featuring nudity. Given Oscar's naughty reputation, this isn't entirely surprising, while prisons and sex seem to go together, from Jean Genet's novels to the controversial late 1970's British film "Scum."

One play at Edinburgh which features some (tasteful) nudity is Outlying Islands by David Greig. Already guaranteed a London transfer, it is coming to the Royal Court in September — a venue which earlier this year featured a beautiful young (naked) Cambridge undergraduate onstage, and which (also earlier this year) in its Jerwood Studio upstairs had Where Do We Live, by Christopher Shinn and directed by Richard Wilson, in which two gay lovers thrashed about in their underpants.

Edinburgh is hosting, again, the most extreme version of nudity onstage — The Puppetry of the Penis, subtitled 'The ancient Australian art of genital origami' in which two performers twist their bits and pieces into interesting shapes.

—By Paul Webb Theatrenow