Forbidden Fruit

FORBIDDEN FRUIT ****

ORAN MOR, GLASGOW

IT'S ONE of the paradoxes of Britain's growing porn culture - and the blandly eroticised advertising and imagery that goes with it - that it has bred not desire but boredom. Kerstin Thorvall's remarkable 1976 story Forbidden Fruit - now translated from the Swedish by Feri Lean - is about the reverse of that. It's a story of sexual desire for ordinary men as experienced by a middle-aged woman who abandons her marriage for a life of passion; about how, for all its superficial frankness and freedom, our culture finds unleashed female sexuality too subversive.

Thorvall was born in 1925, and there are moments when it is clear that she is writing for and about an older generation. Her heroine's obsession with the joyless sexual attitudes of her mother and grandmother, and her biblical sense of guilt at transgressing their ideas of respectable womanhood, is still recognisable to an older Scottish audience, but much less relevant to women under 45.

It's clear, though, from the initial shock of laughter that runs through the audience, that people are unaccustomed to images of female sexuality that go much beyond the Botox pouts and gyrating bottoms of the girls on MTV. Lindy Whiteford's performance, beautifully directed by Adrian Osmond, is one of the most courageous pieces of acting I've seen in Scottish theatre for a while. Wry, clever, funny and sensual, it's a fabulous hot flush of a performance, which risks all the rage and ridicule traditionally directed against older women who are sexually alive and emerges glowing and triumphant.