Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno

Isabella Rossellini
Reviewed by 
Nav Nagra

“It’s not pornographic but it is obscene” Isabella Rossellini warns the audience with a cheeky smile as she plunges into the vibrant and hilarious Green Porno. Dressed elegantly in black, Rossellini stands at a podium alone on the stage, safe for a screen behind her, ready to explore the quirky sophistication of animal reproduction. Rossellini is playful with the audience as she begins her exploration with the erotic nature of flowers along with the sexuality of the common weed. She is eloquent as she personifies nature through proverbs and gender. It’s immediately evident that Rossellini is passionate about biology. She admits to the audience that this fascination with nature and biology originates as far back as her childhood in Italy. The daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini we get small glimpses into her life growing up presented with family portraits but ultimately this performance is all about nature and reproduction.

Set to the backdrop of the original Sundance channel shorts, Green Porno is both a stage and film show. Rossellini gives us an introduction into the reproduction of animals such as the blue whale, the duck, the preying mantis and many more. These introductions are then explored in further detail using her short films first seen on Sundance channel. These shorts portray Rossellini herself in full costume as the animal being explored (if you have not seen one, please Youtube it now). These shorts are incredibly thorough as the animal’s relationship and sexual practices are acted out in a manner reminiscent of puppet shows. These shorts are then continued on stage as Rossellini uses props to illustrate nature’s fascinating sex life. Using these stage props, Rossellini illustrates matters such as penis size (a blue whale compared to gorilla), the functions of various vaginas and at one point dons a hamster costume to demonstrate the practice of the hamster mother eating her young. 

Scientific and philosophical Rossellini brings elements of society to the stage as she explores the natural occurrences of homosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. These, she notes, occur without question in nature and thus ponders the reason why these can then be questioned in humans. Nothing is off limits as Rossellini illustrates through a short film the tale of Noah’s Ark bringing to question how he was able to stick to the two-by-two rule if so many animals differ in how they procreate. At times sentimental and existential, Green Porno paints the picture of nature at its most provocative and thought-provoking moments. Thus, the only conclusion that can be made is that Green Porno is absolute brilliance.

A first time partnership between the Italian Cultural Centre and Vancouver’s PuSh festival, Green Porno came to the Vancouver Playhouse on April 25th 2015.


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