Sex / Crime
Reviewed – 12th April 2018
“a fascinating and well-crafted insight”
In a “lovely basement” (correction: “lovely dungeon”) B has paid A a large of amount of money to recreate one of the famous gay serial killer’s murders, with B as the victim. “I’m going to hurt you,” promises A. “Promise me you’ll make me forget who I am,” retorts B. B has a pain threshold of eight and three quarters and has taken all his drugs on the bus. He is not only a fan of the gay serial killer but “an admirer” and he knows every case in perfect detail. But A has insider knowledge. However expectations collide and the two have to decide how far they are willing to go. As the situation simmers, the session makes a U-turn.
This play is a fascinating and well-crafted insight into a taboo part of the fetish scene, questioning the boundaries between pleasure and pain and revealing the extremities of sado-masochism. It is a nuanced and non-stereotyped approach, which deals in real people and real desires without judgement, whilst still delivering a dramatic and intelligent narrative structure. Alexis Gregory’s writing is darkly funny, and successfully addresses his focuses for this show, fetishisation and ‘gay’ serial killers – “we never say ‘heterosexual serial killers’ do we?” asks Gregory in the programme.
Both Alexis Gregory (also the playwright) as B and Jonny Woo as A, deliver fantastic performances. Gregory has a manic energy onstage, somehow infectiously likeable. There is a wonderful juxtaposition between his excitement and the context in which we find him. Woo is cold, professional and apparently impenetrable. They play off each other fantastically, antitheses of each other in many ways, the balance of power tipping between them in a delicate build of tension.
There is a stylised quality to Gregory’s writing style, which works fantastically in the first half of the play but makes the empathy necessary in the second part harder to muster as an audience member. The play lags at this point as a result of this and the change lacks some believability, and the underlying darkness could have been pushed further at this middle point.
The set (Robbie Butler) is wrapped in white plastic and littered with implements of pain and/or pleasure, hammers and full syringes, and is enhanced by Mike Robertson’s lighting design, which reinvents the space over and over as time passes. With loud sounds punctuating sudden blackouts, the violence is well done – not shied away from, but also not gratuitous.
This is a well crafted, well written piece about a topic that is frequently categorised as taboo, delivered by two excellent performers.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Jane Hobson
Sex / Crime
The Glory until 28th April
Also directed by Robert Chevara