Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Sex/Crime skillfully presents an uncompromising examination of the darker side of modern queer sexuality


queerguru’s  JONNY WARD’S    ☆☆☆☆☆ review

If The Glory is the epicenter of the best in alternative queer performance, then Sex/Crime premieres in its spiritual home. The sharp, precise and witty script (from actor/playwright Alexis Gregory) ensures a hypnotic momentum to the action from the start and the pace rarely slips.

Sex/Crime is an inky black comedy (think Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw crossed with Waiting for Godot) and we join the fun in a basement sex dungeon where the plastic sheeting has already been laid over floor, sofa and ominously even the walls. Like any Friday night at The Glory – you know it’s gonna get messy!

This is where sex worker Character ‘A’ (played with great focus and Daddy/Top/Dom realness by Jonny Woo) expects to be paid handsomely by the hapless punter Character ‘B’ (Gregory) for ‘bespoke services’ expertly rendered.   

In between the scenes of Chemsex (and authentic looking adverse reactions), the play riffs on various timely themes such as gay serial killers; the fetishization of sexual crime and the commodification of transgressive sex aided by technology.

Each character and the journey they travel, whether evolution from prostitute to lover or from torturer to a psychoanalyst, their voice, identity, and intent are always crystal clear thanks to crisp and lean direction from Robert Chevara. When Character B cries “I can cope with the verbal beatings and shattered dreams – that’s what I’ve paid for!” you know that here is someone who wants to be pushed well past his limits and we start to see his heinous scheme materialize.

Jonny Woo’s accent wanders up and down the Thames like a lost London Marathon runner – sometimes posh Putney, sometimes the Estuary English of his native Kent. Intentional or not it serves the dynamic of the piece well, where role play and adopted persona are all part of the “premium package”.

All photographs : Jane Hobson

There is the frequent and effective use of blackouts that not only mask essential stagecraft but also, thanks to Gregory’s screaming, your imagination nimbly fills in the void to a chilling degree. The narrative becomes a bit blurred towards the end of the piece but without pressing the Spoiler Alert button, cannibalism and Stockholm Syndrome all make an appearance.

The casting choice is fascinating: Woo has the sinuosity of a trained dancer and Gregory has the heft of an avid gym bunny, so each has a refined but strongly contrasting physicality. Their characters are named merely Character A and Character B (this might reflect the anonymous nature of sex afforded by modern hook-up apps) but it also invites us to imagine how the dynamic might change if these two actors swapped casting each night.. like Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein at the National Theatre or Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams in Mary Stuart at The Lowry.

Sex/Crime skilfully presents an uncompromising examination of the darker side of modern queer sexuality. As Gregory notes in the programme “I wanted to create an extreme version of society with no boundaries and ever slipping moral code“. Sex/Crime does this and more – to quote Joe Orton “The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul....”

SEX/CRIME runs until April 29th  http://www.theglory.co/events/play-sex-crime-9/

Posted by queerguru  at  20:57

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