Best Full Frontal for a Cause

Elevator Repair Service's Arguendo

Critics' Picks

About as far from dry as the live staging of a Supreme Court oral argument could be, Arguendo, presented by New York-based group Elevator Repair Service at the MCA this spring, reached its climax with a lawyer stripping down to his birthday suit. The case? Barnes v. Glen Theatre (1991), in which erotic dancers in South Bend, Indiana, claimed the state's ban on public nudity violated their First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Coming in the course of pages' and pages' worth of cerebral deliberations on both sides, the full-frontal nudity—hilariously unexpected from a male performer given the focus on pasties and G-strings—only amplified the farcical aspects of, e.g., Justice Scalia's musings on undress in opera as opposed to strip clubs. The court upheld the ban; this show, directed by John Collins, pushed against the limits of protected speech, also testing its audience's susceptibility to blushing.


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