Queer Identities in a Commodified World: Mark Ravenhill’s Mother Clap’s Molly House and the Rise of the (New)
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TitleQueer Identities in a Commodified World: Mark Ravenhill’s Mother Clap’s Molly House and the Rise of the (New)
AEDEAN 2008, 31: 487-495 ISBN-978-84-9749-278-2
[Abstract] Ravenhill’s theatre insists on the contemporary commodification of not only sex, but the whole realm of human feelings and social interactions, a preoccupation that appeared in his frequentlydiscussed Shopping and Fucking (1996) and returns, as a kind of leitmotiv, in Mother Clap’s Molly House (2001). In the latter play, the body becomes a battleground (to use Barbara Kruger’s slogan) where one can read all kinds of sexual practises, identifications and even identities in the form of transvestism, transsexuality, homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality. This profusion of ‘deviated’ bodies (all of them engaged in carnal business and trade) resists any notion of stability and normalisation precisely in a moment (the eighteenth century) when reason and order were imposed by the emerging bourgeoisie on both individual and social bodies. The play, then, makes use of a historical setting in order to problematize any totalizing understanding of the modern individual and to celebrate the freedom provided by contemporary queer sexualities. The frequent changes of gender behaviour and sexual partners present in this work break any attempt to control the individual through norms and laws and function as a liberatory practise in which the usual expectations are never accomplished, but, on the contrary, are continuously turned upside down and presented in a rather unfamiliar way.