Adelaide Festival Review: Isabella Rossellini in Green Porno – Her Majesty’s Theatre (15.03.14)

Isabella Rossellini steps onto the stage in front of a full house at Her Majesty’s Theatre to rousing applause. She is carrying a basket with two bunches of flowers, one of beautiful blooms and one of weed-like plants and explains how the blooms act like foreplay to the insects, which fertilise the flowers, whereas the weeds are fertilised by pollen blowing in the wind. So begins her fascinating monologue on the sex lives of animals. The fact that flower blooms are a potent symbol of sexual reproduction yet can be found in churches, for example, amused her.

Isabella then went on to explain her method acting helped her understand the behaviour behind animal mating instincts. We were treated to her acting out mating rituals, both on stage and on a giant video screen behind her. For those that are interested, many of these videos can be found on the internet as they were created for television in 2008.

Although delivered as a lecture, I’ve never been to a lecture as stimulating and funny as this before. We learned about the size and shapes of penises of various animals in glorious detail. The size of the animal does not always match the size of the penis – the humble barnacle is able to mate with a female barnacle in the equivalent of being in the house across the street for example.

There were various costume changes as Isabella, the daughter of Ingrid Bergman, acted out her motherly instincts as a hamster or her wish to be man. The audience were constantly delighted and educated with a personality that was both fun and entertaining. She obviously revels in the part as performer.

Many examples of strange sexual behaviour in the animal world were presented, homosexuality, hermaphrodites, bisexuals, more than one could ever imagine. Which led to the obvious question, when Noah collected animals two by two, how did he deal with the many examples presented which did not fit in with the classical mould of male and female. Through the presenting of the lives of animals, it opened up a deeper discussion of the role sex plays in our own lives.

This performance was truly entertaining and inspiring and the audience were treated to an amazing address. It is refreshing to watch someone so full of life talk about a subject obviously close to her heart in such a playful way. Isabella Rossellini enjoyed presenting Green Porno as much as the audience enjoyed watching it. A performance that will be talked about for a long time to come.

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