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Review of Punching The Sky at Soho Theatre

Punching The SkyPunching the Sky, written, performed and co-produced by Lizi Patch, based on a blog article she posted in 2013, tells the story of a son that grows up too quickly after being exposed to a violent pornographic video on the internet. Patch provides the narrative of her son’s existence, from birth to the vulnerable age of eleven, and is accompanied by Emily Dowson and Rob Ward, in addition to video projection and an innocent score, to assist in animating her story.

Punching the Sky is not an exploration into the aftermath of pre-teen pornographic discovery, but rather – as advertised – a play about ‘parenting, porn and pressure’. Patch begins by reading us a fairy-tale about a princess who is sexually assaulted. From this point, an audience should accept the role of the ‘audience’, not there to be taught but rather to be told. Patch invites us into a very personal world as she tells us the story of her two sons growing up; after all ‘If we don’t know him, how can we care?’ And honestly: I didn’t really feel much sympathy for her son Arthur, but I don’t think that was the point. He’s just another pre-teen who has stumbled across porn by mistake.

I don’t think sympathising with Arthur was the purpose. His is just one story being told, and what we ought to care about are the thousands of teenagers and children who are being exposed to mature internet content prior to their first clumsy kiss. Through gentle comedy and frank opinions, Patch doesn’t necessarily tell us how we can act to change, but rather invites us in to the pressures of motherhood and her personal journey. For me, this wasn’t a play about Internet pornography, this was a play about parentage in the twenty-first century, where a mobile phone is a vital accessory to fit in with the cool crowd in the primary school playground.

The set – made up of a wooden box, desk, bin and blinds – worked collaboratively with the projection which was cast upon the blind’s shutters. The room was lit with a generosity that revealed the precise movements of the performers, without losing the intimate feel and rapport between audience and storyteller. After seeing some awful ‘just for the sake of it’ projection in many other shows of recent times, it was such a pleasure to see animation, working with sound, to act as a proper medium for moving the story along. Fluorescent, colourful clothing added a real sense of child-play – emphasised with the warmth of Patch’s performance – creating a safe space for us all.

Punching the Sky is a fast-paced, animated piece of storytelling, which perhaps take a little long to get to the point; but then I suppose that depends on what the point is. Lizi Patch essentially delivers a frank and honest insight, which is performed with a captivating dynamism and beautiful collaboration of storytelling mediums.

4 stars

Review by Joseph Winer

‘Being a mother is terrifying’
A new play about porn, parenting and pressure.

Punching The Sky is a very personal response to the extraordinary national media storm that followed when the writer dared to blog about her 11 year old son stumbling across hardcore online pornography.

A multi-media play with an original soundtrack,Punching The Sky delves into the democratic space of the internet and shines a light on the contradictory nature of our feelings about sex, censorship and parenthood.
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Punching The Sky
Running Time: 60 mins
Booking to 30th April 2016
http://sohotheatre.com/

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