Puntila/Matti never had any pretensions at entertainment, co-director Dr Tom Payne admits this in the show’s blog.
However even in this age of background, foreground and current ground, audience members should not have to research why and how it harks back to Brechtian theatre. Whatever its references, it should stand alone. And Puntila/Matti does not.
It’s 90 minutes of planned chaos, audience insults and warnings of flashing lights, smoke and nudity. It’s a titillating gimmick: although Grace Lauer (Matti, and whomever else she plays) prances about in cotton, Tobias Manderson-Galvin (Puntila, and whomever else he plays), appears halfway through with a wrapped penis, numerous catheters protruding, and wearing a plastic bull-head mask. The production seems proud of bullying its audience. Manderson-Galvin recruits women in the audience to be his possible wives (do ask) then tells them to “fuck off.” It’s not funny. Worse, should someone decide to leave, they are certain to be followed by an invective.
It seems offence is the objective of this show, and there is no denying the presence of the actors, it has succeeded. As I was leaving Manderson-Galvin, still in character, slapped me on the back, none too gently. “It was a great show!” he shouted.