The Sex Show
28/02/2011 - 08/03/2011
02/10/2012 - 13/10/2012
A cheeky peek beneath Kiwi sheets
Sex –What does it say about us? Anyone who has been exposed to Japanese pornography or rubbed up against a German fetish website will know how telling their sexual practices are and how much they reveal about the hidden psyche of those two nations.
The French are romantic and passionate; Italians, wild and reckless; the British are reserved and unadventurous – but what about New Zealanders? What do Kiwis do with our pants down and what does it say about us as a nation?
The Outfit Theatre Company presents a cheeky peek under the sheets into the sexual appetites and attitudes of Aotearoa.
A huge ensemble cast brings to life a variety of colourful, comedic and climactic characters who reveal their sexual experiences, relationships, politics, fantasies and fears from every possible ‘position’.
Infamous for their large casts, topical performances and explosive style, The Outfit Theatre Company are touted by many as ‘the ones to watch’ in the Auckland theatre scene. The Sex Show, the newest work by the prolific professional theatre troupe, is their sixth original New Zealand play since the Company’s inception in 2007.
Programmed as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival, The Sex Show is sure to leave its mark among the weird and wonderful offerings that the festival will present. The play draws on the real life sexual experiences of its mammoth cast as well as polling online forums and social media sites where members of the public are also encouraged to share their own experiences.
The Sex Show is honest, funny, touching and thoroughly…Stimulating.
What’s your fetish?
The Sex Show
When: 28 February to 8 March, 2011
Show Times: Mon – Wed, Sun – Tue: 9pm
Thurs – Fri: 7pm | Sat: 6pm
Where: Galatos, 17 Galatos St, Newton.
Tickets: Adult: $18, Conc: $13, Group: $13
Don’t miss the return season of this cheeky peek between the sheets, who knows what saucy tidbits you’ll discover.
The Sex Show
2 – 13 October 2012
at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.
Bookings at 0800 BUY TICKETS or www.buytickets.co.nz
Adults $30, Concession
$25 (service fees apply).
Concession available for seniors, students and groups of 6 or more.
R18: Contains adult themes, violence, strong language, sex scenes, drug use and nudity.
The Outfit Theatre Company has gathered a talented and exciting ensemble cast for the encore season of The Sex Show, including Outfit ensemble members reprising their roles:
Sarah Graham (Punk Rock, Alice)
Jacqui Nauman (Auckland Daze, Go Girls)
Pete Coates (A Criminal Christmas, Heroes)
Ema Barton (Alice, The Suburban Murder)
Colin Garlick (A Criminal Christmas, These Are The Skeletons of Us)
Gypsy Kauta (The Suburban Murder, Othello)
Brad Johnson (King Arthur, Course Related Costs)
Devlin Bishop (Little White Men, King Arthur),
Anoushka Klaus (A Criminal Christmas, Shortland St),
Kate Vox (Alice, Love After Dark)
Also joining the cast for 2012 are Outfit ensemble members:
Andrew Ford (Boys’ Life, The History Boys),
Chris Tempest (Shortland St, King Arthur)
Nicole Jorgenson (Boys’ Life, The Suburban Murder)
Jordan Mooney (Punk Rock, Course Related Costs)
and guest ensemble joining the cast for 2012:
Matt Baker (The Suburban Murder, Free Load)
Bede Skinner (Shortland St, Power Rangers)
Tarquinn Kennedy (Course Related Costs)
Kayleigh Haworth (Everything She Ever Said To Me, Tigerplay)
Laura Daniel (3rd year Unitec - Romeo & Juliet, The Dining Room)
Zara Cormack (3rd year Unitec - Romeo & Juliet, The Dining Room)
Directed by Joel Herbert (Little White Men, A Criminal Christmas)
Design by Brad Gledhill
The little death and it’s aftermath
Review by Lexie Matheson 03rd Oct 2012
The Sex Show poses more questions than it presents answers for but I suppose that’s the point. In a way it’s the point. The point, oddly, isn’t actually that clear. It did remind me, however, of an old joke:
1st man in pub: How’s your sex life?
2nd man in pub: OK but I want to try something new.
1st man in pub: What’s that?
2nd man in pub: I want the wife to try doggy style.
Three months pass –
1st man in pub: How did the doggy style work out?
2nd man in pub: It was great. She loved the new position. But there was a problem.
1st man in pub: What was the problem?
2nd man in pub: It took me a month to get her to come out on the street.
I was reminded of the joke because it seems that, for actors, engaging in the sex act on stage is a bit like going out on the street. It’s taking the most intimate of all human behaviour out into the public arena and saying to everyone, “this is how I do it, this is me.” It requires a greater degree of personal honesty than almost any other action I can think of and constitutes the greatest risk.
In this, these actors shine.
The Sex Show programme reminds us that ‘‘we’ve managed to turn the most natural of acts into a political and psychological minefield. We have heaped upon it the trappings and taboos of modern society” and adds that “this play is about those trappings.”
Mostly it is. That old battle of the sexes where men don’t know what women want and men can’t grasp the experience of the female of the species. ‘Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus’, that sort of stuff.
I was reminded of Teiresias. He would have known. He’d have had it all under his hat. Transgendered people are like that … both sides of the coin, all that stuff. None of them in the play I noted. Pity, but you can’t have everything.
Teiresias, the blind prophet from Hesiod’s Greek mythology – just to catch you up – came upon a pair of copulating snakes which he hit with a stick. Hera wasn’t pleased and punished him by turning him into a woman. Teiresias subsequently married and had children but was later drawn into an argument between Hera and her husband Zeus about whether men or women gained the most satisfaction from sex since Teiresias had, happily, experienced both. Hera claimed the man had the most fun but Teiresias agreed with Zeus that the female orgasm was the more amazing and Hera angrily blinded him for this ‘transgression’. Maybe if we’d had Teiresias …
Before I start I have to say there’s a major issue with this production and it concerns audibility. I was worried that it was just my pre-loved hearing that was at fault so I checked with a number of owners of newer models after the show and the consensus was that I wasn’t wrong and that there were quite long passages that were difficult to hear. In retrospect it’s partly the venue, partly the placement of audio gear and partly the positioning of actors. Anyone on or behind the line of the proscenium arch was inaudible, text spoken over music was near to impossible to hear and catching essential snippets of speech over the clacking of high heels on the highly polished floor was very difficult indeed.
None of these issues is insurmountable with only a few judicious changes needed to make the production accessible to everyone who desires to experience this expansive journey through the sexual landscape.
No design credits are given for the set: a central platform thrust out from the stage of the Concert Chamber which allows for the audience to be on three sides. Rectangular boxes lit from within are moved around the set to create areas suited to every permutation of sexual connection needed for the 90 minute (without an interval) journey. Brad Gledhill’s lighting design is excellent adding a suitably florid palette to scenes where this is appropriate.
Direction (Joel Herbert) is taut and slick throughout which suits the episodic nature of the work and set and scene transitions are smartly executed and effective. Overall, the show has real pizzazz, almost too much at times, as the scenes are often short and keeping up with the Jones’s and who is doing what to whom is a bit of a challenge.
The genesis of the work was an anonymous online poll taken by 114 New Zealanders who provided The Outfit Theatre Company with details of their darkest secrets, private fantasies and deepest desires with the aim of compiling, for performance, “a snapshot of the New Zealand’s sexual psyche.” The cast and crew added their tuppence worth and the result is a show that achieves exactly what it set out to achieve. A different 114 participants would have produced a totally dissimilar bunch of material which in some ways is exactly the point – we’re all different.
There’s a bit of man on man, plenty of man on woman and woman on man, a cluster of solo hands are dealt, there’s a smattering of infidelity, some sad celibacy, a threesome of sorts, some group groping, a suggestion of girl on girl, and some very memorable tableaux.
50 Shades of Grey finds its way into the text, condoms are fumbled for, rumpy pumpy is managed in unexpected – and expected – places, porn is watched and, all in all, it’s a colourful and funny romp.
It has its own inner realism despite the cast being, without exception, young and beautiful, and despite a certain predictable lack of depth in the content. But then it doesn’t profess to be Kinsey but more along the lines of The Hite Report. It’s fun, and it makes some interesting points.
There’s some fine acting, some tip-top writing – the excellent Gary Henderson is dramaturg – and some moving relationship situations. While much of the content is flippant and glib – like so many of the encounters we have in our daily lives – and some of the characters are of the ‘ships that pass in the night’ variety, All Black Joe Masters (Bede Skinner) and wife-to-be Ally (Jacqui Nauman) create a powerful intensity, and their meeting with Josh (Jordan Mooney) has an impressive level of authenticity that clearly sets it as the emotional centrepiece of the evening.
We learn more about these characters than we do about any of the others with the possible exception of celibate preacher Clark (Andrew Ford) and his frustrated virgin wife Grace (Nicole Jorgensen) and it has to be said that the more we find out about these characters the richer the material becomes and the more we care. Skinner, Nauman, Mooney, Ford and Jorgensen flesh these characters out, give them life and reap the reward.
Ross (Ryan Richards) and Angie (Sarah Graham) are excellent as well but with somewhat less imposing material.
So maybe there’s a message there for all of us. We relate best to the most richly drawn characters. There’s a place for bleak cynicism but it has to be balanced against hope. Reality doesn’t always please.
There are parts of the show that are hosted by a set of ‘furries’ rounded up and controlled by the delectable head fursona Clitoracle (Heidi Kauta). There’s Sex Panda (Brad Johnson), Fellatio Fox (Ema Barton) and last, but definitely not least, Cunnilingus Cat (Tarquinn Kennedy) and these furballs add a fetishistic feature to the production that was otherwise strangely muted. Was this an opportunity missed – or did the respondents not uncover their deepest, most interesting quirks after all??
There are some great lines – maybe some I missed, also – or classic two liners. But mostly, for some scary reason, it’s the sexual nasties – mostly directed at underperforming men and there are a few of them – that are the most memorable.
Then there’s the excuses – again from the men (It’s been a long day; Training is so exhausting). And the incredibly, incredibly sad (If I do that, then he’ll like me?)
In the end, it’s all been about the battle of the sexes and there never are any winners of that stoush. There’s a lot of grunting, heavy breathing, spitting and spats, stroking and climaxing as you would expect, all in the best possible taste, and after ‘the act’ – the swingers party – the stage resembles a battlefield strewn with bodies. Beautiful bodies, but bodies all the same.
The little death and it’s aftermath.
Leaving the theatre I heard two similar conversations, each between groups of women, bemoaning the fact that Kiwis are such prudes. I guess we are in many ways but what did they expect, I wondered. They had the full frontals and the simulated sex. They had girls (and boys) doing it for themselves. They had real people in real situations so what was missing for these women?
Maybe our sexual expectations have become too great. I wondered what the elderly couple in the front row made of it all. They seemed engrossed. They clapped loudly.
So, what’s it all about, Alfie? It ‘s about sex – not love. It’s about sex, not relationships. It’s about sex, not emotions. Maybe the show is secretly telling us that sex on its own will never be truly satisfying; will never really be enough.
Maybe it’s saying that. Maybe it is.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Brave, risqué ensemble work: take an open mind
Review by Adey Ramsel 01st Mar 2011
Director Joel Herbert admits as much in his introduction that, “Sex is so infinitely personal that it was quite literally unfeasible to show the full range of the sexual spectrum. Even defining ‘sex’ proved near impossible. The closest we ever came was defining sex as “any act which may increase the chance of orgasm”. Hmm … and so with that as our starting point off we go into The Sex Show.
First up is Alex and Claire in bed, she reading, he with something else on his mind but she’s having none of it, or more to the point she’s having none of it his way; it’s her way or nothing. We then cross to Grace and Clark, a stock vicar clearly angered at the inclusion of The Sex Show in the latest Auckland Fringe and his stay-at-home ‘nice’ wife. He knows all about ‘sex’ and what it can do whereas she is completely in the dark.
Next up are Joe the All Black and his trophy fiancé Ally. He isliving the drink, drugs and a different girl a night dream while she waits for him patiently at a dance class to rehearse their wedding dance. Waiting with her is dance instructor Alex, who we met before. [Spoiler alert] They decide to rehearse on their own when the inevitable happens and she kisses him just as Joe walks in … Then they’re joined by Celeste, the 15 going on 20 year old who has earlier tried her teenage seduction act on Alex. who was clearly having none of it… [alert ends].
And so it goes on. All 19 unconnected characters slowly come together to create a mosaic of sex through their and our eyes: what we like, how we like it, where we like it; when, who with, how many, how often, what position; do we like to be in control; preferences, fetishes, prejudices … Short snippets of scenes keep us glued to the ever changing action and the revolving cast as each character discovers and/or reveals a little bit more about themselves or partner.
I have to say this has to be one of the bravest cast ensembles I have witnessed, with no weak link. Literally diving into their subject with gay – well actually, almost entirely straight – abandon, discarding clothes and inhibitions, they and director Joel Herbert clearly have mutual trust beyond measure, which results in as strong a company as I have ever seen.
Supportive of each other, clearly focused, professional and mature, they have created a sexy and seductive piece of theatre that asks the questions, points out the facts but more importantly does not deliver all the answers. We have to do that on the way home.
A stand out ensemble if ever there was one, Chris Neels none-the-less gives a finely tuned comedic performance as Ross, and Holly Bradfield as vicar’s wife Grace gives a steady wide-eyed innocent performance. Edward Clendon, an actor who more than put himself up there on display, shows a mature and brave talent, managing to keep the threatened giggling at bay in some sensitive scenes.
Though the director points out there is no room for them to show the full sex spectrum, there does seem to be an incomplete circle without the theme of sex and the older age group addressed, and it seems to be left to Clendon again to fly the homosexual sex flag all on his own.
There also seems to be a lack of ‘normality’ in this “snapshot of New Zealand sexual psyche” which maybe is not a bad thing – hey, if we wanted ‘normal’ we’d stay at home right? On the other hand if you wish to see some exceptional and risqué fringe theatre, go and see The Sex Show… just don’t take your Granny.
This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust http://www.wallaceartstrust.org.nz/
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Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer