When I first read a spoiler-filled synopsis of Michael John LaChiusa’s newest work, See What I Wanna See I immediately rejected it as a show I could see (given the opportunity) because of some of its content – namely both rape and consensual sex depicted on stage.
Since the show has been running in previews for two weeks (it officially opened last night), a number of people I know have gotten a chance to see it and have been discussing the meaning and implications of the show ever since.
From all I’ve read, See What I Wanna See seems the most thought-provoking musical to come to
Idina Menzel (The Wife) and Marc Kudisch (The Husband) in See What I Wanna See (Photo copyright Michal DANIEL, 2005)
However, one dilemma remains: Can a Christian, in good conscience, go to See What I Wanna See? Theatre isn’t like the movies. You can’t wait for the DVD to come out and fast-forward the unpleasant or explicit scenes. You’re not so removed from the characters in the theatre. If you were to watch a rape scene in a movie it would be far less disturbing than watching one in the theatre – especially at the Public, a very small theatre with a thrust stage. All the terrible action is right there in front of you . . . in the very same room.
Idina Menzel (The Wife) and Aaron Lohr (The Thief) in See What I Wanna See (Photo copyright Michal DANIEL, 2005)
Even with this disturbing imagery, can a Christian see it? The story would be monumentally different without it and far less thought-provoking. Can rape be portrayed tastefully? Perhaps it is portrayed as tastefully as possible. But is it proper to portray it at all? Is there another way to show the selfish paradigms of sinful man without using rape, consensual sex, and grim murders to do so? If there is, would the story be nearly as powerful since part of the hard-hitting nature of the show is found it the extreme nature of the situations at hand?
These are the questions that have my mind churning in circles about this show and theatre in general. If given the opportunity, I would want to see it because nothing like it has come along in a very long time, but I do not want to be desensitized to sinful extremes. Thankfully I live 550 miles from the city and don’t have to actually make the decision, but I can’t help wondering . . .