Porno Death Cult Stages Unsettling Dance-Theatre Meditation on Faith

PDC Photos by Clancy Peek A Boo Hair

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s Porno Death Cult ran Jan 14 – 16 at the West Village Theatre, as part of the 2016 High Performance Rodeo. Photo Credit: Clancy Dennehy.

Written and performed by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, Porno Death Cult is a humorous, often unsettling dance-theatre meditation on faith and belonging. Playing different characters, Friedenberg seeks truth, or some semblance of it, in religious and spiritual practices.

The audience is first introduced to Maureen, a nervous middle-aged Christian woman. Awkwardly, she tries making small talk with the audience. Maureen’s loneliness screams aloud like a truck flying down the autobahn.

Later, Friedenberg transforms into a crazed preacher who sees fire and brimstone on the horizon. His words are imbued with passion, but rarely does any of it make coherent sense.

Behind Friedenberg, there is a large altar (set design by Mickey Meads) of various icons and photographs.

Maureen is in her home, preparing for a party. Her only invited guest is Jesus. Unfortunately, he never arrives to the party, leaving Maureen all alone.

The truth of the matter is, Maureen is likely chasing religion for all the wrong reasons. Or maybe, she’s in it for all the right reasons. It’s hard to say, but there’s an overwhelming sense that Maureen sees religion as a way to combat her loneliness. Maureen lists multiple religions she’s chased, proving she’s not particularly picky about their core values. She’s seeking fulfillment, and going through religions until she achieves it.

This makes for an interesting contrast between Maureen and the spiritual guru who we later meet in the show. The spiritual guru celebrates achieving total numbness, suppressing all feeling for ‘clarity’. The guru seems to have all the answers, at least he’s convinced himself that he does.

And then, there’s sexy Jesus, who speaks like he’s the coolest guy on the beach. The line between religious worship and fetishization is thin.

Running through this show is great uncertainty in the face of life’s biggest questions. The uncertainty produces explosive movement from Friedenberg, dressed in a white three-piece suit. Her movement cuts the air with its frenetic energy. It’s exhilarating, if not terrifying. Marc Stewart’s original music, with its raw, pulse-pounding sound, enriches Friedenberg’s movement.

Friedenberg is a versatile performer, no doubt. She summons a whirlwind of emotions and theatrical play in this compelling one-woman show, directed by Marcus Yousef. Her nervous humour is certainly unique. Audiences won’t be sure what to make of Friedenberg at first, but that doesn’t make this experience any less enjoyable or approachable.

Presented by One Yellow Rabbit, Friedenberg’s Porno Death Cult is an intense, thought provoking experience that takes grip of its audience and doesn’t let it go until the very end


Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s Porno Death Cult ran Jan 14 – 16 at the West Village Theatre, as part of the 2016 High Performance Rodeo.

For more information about the show, visit: https://www.hprodeo.ca/2016/porno-death-cult

For more information about the artist, visit: http://www.taracheyenne.com/

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