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Green Porno: Theater Review

Issue 5 FEA Berlin Isabella Rossellini - P 2013
Sundance Channel
Isabella Rossellini

The Bottom Line

This illustrated lecture about the birds, bees and myriad other creatures is a drolly amusing crash course on animal sexuality.

Venue

BAM Fisher, New York (Through Jan. 25)

Cast

Isabella Rossellini

Director

Muriel Mayette

Writers

Isabella Rossellini, Jean-Claude Carriere

Isabella Rossellini's one-woman show about the mating rituals of the animal kingdom is based on her popular Sundance Channel series.

“Tonight we’re going to talk about sex,” announces actress Isabella Rossellini at the start of her one-person show Green Porno based on her popular Sundance Channel television series of the same name. But lest anyone in the audience gets too excited, she quickly adds, “Is it erotic? I don’t know, because I don’t know your taste.”

Differing tastes aside, it’s hard to imagine that anyone will find her show about the mating habits of the birds, bees and myriad other members of the animal kingdom particularly sexy. But it’s undeniably amusing and entertaining. It’s like the coolest university lecture that you could ever imagine attending.

Rossellini -- famed as both an actress (Blue Velvet) and model -- is clearly passionate about her subject, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Wearing a demure black gown and white pearls, she delivers her lecture with an understated drollness — that is, until she shows numerous clips from the series, in which she’s seen wearing a succession of hilarious animal costumes while portraying the more outlandish mating rituals in nature.

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We learn about the various sizes of penises belonging to animals. The largest belongs to the blue whale, but that giant-sized mammal has nothing on the lowly barnacle, which actually has the longest penis in relation to its size. A description of how ducks basically engage in gang rapes leads to a hilarious illustration of their ingeniously complex vaginas which have the capability of blocking out unwanted intruders.

A section on parenting includes the disturbing fact that baby salmon eat the decomposing flesh of their parents, while various types of copulation are described at length, including how female praying mantises cannibalize their mates and that dolphins occasionally resort to penetrating each other’s blowholes.

She also amusingly breaks down the absurdity of the story of Noah’s Ark, with its limited view of biodiversity that excludes, say, hermaphroditic and asexual creatures.   

Co-written by famed screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire), Green Porno ultimately feels more academic than theatrical, and the numerous film clips will prove repetitive for fans of the series. But in such moments as when the still beautiful Rossellini dons a giant rodent costume to illustrate how hamster mothers gobble down unhealthy offspring, it has a goofy charm that’s impossible to resist.