Tuesday, 28 August 2012

THEATRE REVIEW: Sex Ed: The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe)

Out Write Productions
Edinburgh Fringe – theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall
25 August 2012

Sex Ed: The Musical bills itself as a show which will tell you “Everything you never wanted to know about sex”. I think that should be altered slightly – it’s everything you thought you never wanted to know about sex, until you witnessed it all put into a series of very catchy songs and hilarious dances, at which point you couldn’t imagine how you wouldn’t want to hear about it.

The inaugural production of new theatre company Out Write Productions, this show caused hysterical laughter to break out throughout the audience as the riotously funny cast of seven take sixteen-year-old Gilbert and Gladys – along with the audience – on a journey through all the ins and outs (yes, pun intended – I stole it from the show) of sex, from contraception to technique and positions to sexual orientation. It’s all very silly, of course: sperm is represented by sock puppets, STIs are likened to cheese and phrases such as “vaginally tardy” are thrown around the stage. But the show manages to tread the line between funny and crude with skill, and ensure that serious issues are not trivialised whilst also having a lot of fun. This extends to the set, props and scene changes: the use of labels and signs indicates a home-made aspect to the show, but rather than highlighting any sense of unprofessionalism, cardboard signs such as “If We Had a Budget This Would Be A Scene Change” or “Focus On The Sign!” bring an extra dash of charming humour to the show.

Bethan Rigby and Isobel Wolff steal the show with their hilarious characterisation of Barbara and Glenda respectively. Rigby’s sense of physical comedy is spot-on, uproariously over-the-top at times but also touching in her own journey of self-discovery. Wolff’s motherly naivety is a brilliant foil to Agatha’s (Emily Snee) brashness and Hildegard’s (Lizzie Hartley) hopeless disorganisation and never-ending pregnancies. Vicky Buxton as Bob also provides many laughs with her forthright nature, and has one of the strongest voices in the musical numbers. The songs are all performed with gusto, and credit should really be given to all the cast for their ability to make it through numbers such as ‘Swallow My Pride’ with a straight face – there certainly wasn’t a single one to be found in the audience. Moments of hilarity came one after the other: from enforced audience participation on the part of two unsuspecting theatregoers who were made to wear ‘W**ker’ labels, to the transformation of shy Gilbert into a “kinky” lover, the show combined a wicked sense of humour and a warm heart which was encapsulated perfectly by the closing number of ‘Go F**k Yourself’.

There is a plethora of shows at the Fringe who have decided to stick ‘:The Musical’ onto the end of their title – enough to make me nervous about them all. Yet Sex Ed: The Musical certainly does not merit this anxiety, as the hilarious script and the relentless energy of the cast make for an hour-and-a-bit of unstoppable fun and hilarity.

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