rape comedy

‘Asking For It’: funny about unfunny

Adrienne Truscott's in-your-face riff on rape and rape culture crosses boundaries and plunges her audience into some very serious comedy


[Trigger Warning: multiple mentions of rape, rape culture, vaginas]


Hey, my theater editor asks, do you want to go see this new rape play? I think you’d really like it! I pause and ask myself internally, have I typecast myself as a feminist writer? Or is it simply just appropriate for a young female comedy writer to go cover a self-proclaimed “rape comedy” and attempt to make sense of what that means, or could possibly be? Before I know it, I’ve exclaimed, “Sold! You had me at ‘rape play’!” and I’m in the dark off of Lombard, traipsing behind a gargantuan  industrial complex that’s posed conspicuously between a narrow street and several railroad tracks. We follow carefully placed arrow signs down a gravel road to a side door entrance, lit by a single bulb.  What surrealist, disorienting alley has Portland led me down this time? I didn’t think we even had alleys. What, exactly, have I gotten myself into?

What I got myself into was the Headwaters Theater space, where Boom Arts presented one of the most intense, emotionally charged, confrontational performances I think I’ve ever experienced – and believe you me, it is an experience. Boom Arts has been bringing provocative, relevant and vital works to Portland since 2012, headed by curator/producer Ruth Wikler-Luker. This season, she’s brought us “genre-straddling” NYC artist Adrienne Truscott, who has focused for 15 years on creating work that transcends boundaries and shape-shifts traditional forms, seeking to upend assumptions and challenge both herself and her audiences. With the West Coast premiere of Asking For It, Adrienne has done something unthinkable and darn-near inconceivable: she has, as a woman, managed to make rape funny. (I know, I know … don’t worry, we’ll get into it.)

The title tells you much of what you need to know:

Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy & Little Else!

Okay, so that’s the Who and the What. The performance itself seems to beg the question “Why?”


Adrienne Truscott: talking about rape, one Coors at a time.

Adrienne Truscott: talking about rape, one Coors at a time.

Bursting out of the gate, naked from the waist down, Truscott traipses commandingly across a bare-bones stage in six-inch platform heels and a frantic pile of bras, wigs, and denim jackets, which come on and off in hilariously choreographed spasms throughout the show.