Some Explicit Polaroids is a classic example of style over substance. Mark Ravenhill's script revolves around Nick (Ted Schulz), who is released from prison after serving time for a politically driven attempted murder. He tries to reunite with his old girlfriend, the hard-nosed Helen (Lorraine Bahr), meets with only partial success and so, falls in love with a stripper, Nadia (Jenni Green), who lives with a duo of strung out, barbarically affectionate gay lovers, Tim and Victor (Sean Skvarka and Chris Harder). These characters provide excellent springboards for rifts on the pitfalls and politics of drug use, promiscuity, and AIDS. Unfortunately, real emotion takes a back seat to the pursuit of such ideas.
The affection that forms between Nick and Nadia, two people who have nothing in common, is never explained. The same goes for the oversexed relationship between Tim and Victor. As a result, character connections feel perfunctory, almost detached, though perhaps that is the point, since the play is primarily about lives lost in the throes of irresponsible revelry. A panel of silk screens distances the audience from the more intimate moments and is removed for the moments of disgusting indulgence. The scenes between Nick and Helen occur in her bedroom, through the silk screens, and the audience feels as if we are spying, watching them from outside their window. The same thing happens again later when Tim is dying of AIDS in the hospital. The scene between him and Victor is gentle, profound. Earlier on, we watched them grind, strip, pop pills, lick each other repulsively, and there were no silkscreens.
The blatant debauchery is clearly visible; the moments of true insight masked. This trait is at once the play's biggest problem and its most fascinating asset.