Review: ONEOFUS Julie Atlas Muz & Mat Fraser Beauty and the Beast at MCA

Invited by the SAIC BAAH department, I arrived at MCA at 7:10 pm on a Friday night after a 15-min walk in a -6 Celcius degree weather. After meeting with 7 other fellows, we found out seats in the second to the last row of the theater. More than 90% of the room was filled up. We, a group of 20-year olds, looked fresh in that crowd.

Beauty and Beast, one of the most popular and famous fairytales in the western history, has made its dramatical turn at MCA by Julie Atlas Muz, 2006 Miss Coney Island and 2006 Miss Exotic World, and Mat Fraser, an English performance artist with thalidomide-induced Phocomelia. This couple re-annotated the identity of the characters and mixed their real-life romance in the story line.

Starting from a death threat by a notorious beast, Beauty is forced to live with the monster in order to save her father’s live. By using magic, the Beast is able to hide his disability from the beautiful woman and expects the secret can keep longer. As the fairytale continues, Beauty and Beast start to feel attracted to each other; the monstrous Beast is addicted to her company while she falls in love with his protection, even though she refuses his marriage proposal a few times. Until one day, Beauty demands Beast to eat in front of her with his hands, the two confront each other. In the end, Beauty marries Beast.

This classic fairytale follows the traditional storyline but uses the most adult way to tell the story. Starting from the half of the performance, Beauty and Beast have gone completely naked in front of the audience. With multiple times, the characters change outfits to illustrate story transitions, but they choose to cover everywhere else but the genitalia. As an audience who is constantly challenged by artistic performances, I was able to accept and appreciate the actors’ choices. By confronting their physical bodies to the audience, we are able to pass through the obstacles, or clothes, and see the true natures of disabilities, or naked bodies. In the end of the performance, when Beauty and Beast are married, the sex scene became the highlight of the show. As the actors being completely naked on the stage, even though Beast didn’t really put his genitalia into Beauty’s, the audiences had an overwhelming discomfort from just being in the room. Some of them laughed out loud, some of them covered their eyes, and some of them just walked out of the room.

I, all of my lovely friends from the BAAH program and Annie, the director of the program, were deeply in love with the show for its creativity and brilliant choices on pushing all of our sensational buttons yet without upsetting any of them. I was extremely proud of being a part of the SAIC community and highly respect our understanding and appreciation to good arts.

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