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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fringe 2015 review: “Deviant Behaviors”

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 5:01 PM

  • Dangerous Theatre
Deviant Behaviors is an odd, slightly self-indulgent, though admittedly unique, look at one person’s relationship with BDSM (bondage-discipline-sadism-masochism). Though the one-woman show will touch those involved in BDSM, it might leave those outside the lifestyle scratching their heads and looking at their watches.

The show is vastly different from its description on the Fringe site, which leads one to expect a traditional theatrical structure. Instead, Denver artist Winnie Wenglewick is essentially herself for the first and last sections of her three-part presentation, content to chat in an ad-libbed manner.

The first part is a how-to guide to BDSM, complete with an easel and instructional posters. At first glance, it might seem like an unnecessarily simple lecture, but you actually might learn a few things, such as the RACK (risk-aware-consensual-kink) guidelines. Unfortunately, the entertainment factor is pretty low, and I couldn’t help feeling that non-BDSM audience members were being looked down upon as “vanilla,” especially when, in a jaw-droppingly presumptuous moment, Wenglewick tells us, “Everyone should have a master/slave relationship.” She meant it innocently and, admittedly, she goes out of her way to promote respect and communication, but it immediately built a wall between audience and performer.

The second section is a brief and rather uninspired skit depicting one BDSM participant who has taken the lifestyle too far and finds herself joining “Pain Sluts Anonymous.” It’s a nice break from the non-theatrical stuff and is good for a chuckle despite its darker connotations, but it’s the least heartfelt of the three parts.

The most memorable, awkward and painful content is saved for last. Not only does Wenglewick finally cover some of the “why” of BDSM (after addressing the “how” in the first section), but she allows herself to be flogged, explaining that this both excites her and helps her deal with her psychological issues. It’s definitely not lacking raw emotion, but it’s simply too heavy-handed, especially considering she spends the rest of the final section rambling about her troubled past and exhibitionism.

Just as Wenglewick says she keeps an open mind regarding sexual practices she considers odd, I, too, am trying not to unfairly judge either the performer or her lifestyle. Deviant Behaviors is clearly a therapeutic exercise for her, and, hey, isn’t that one of the greatest roles art can play? I just can’t fully recommend sitting through Wenglewick’s therapy session when there are so many other Fringe shows designed to make your life better.

“Deviant Behaviors”
Dangerous Theatre – Denver, Colorado
Venue: Purple
Length: 50 minutes
Rating: 18 and up
Price: $9 

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