Sex Play – risky and experimental

Nathan Porteus and Amy Victoria Brooks in Sex Play. Photographer Calen Vanstone.
Nathan Porteus and Amy Victoria Brooks in Sex Play. Photographer Calen Vanstone.

Alan Grace’s new play, Sex Play begins with a torrent of words from a woman perched by a mirror. One moment she is a tough working girl, the next an angry lover; flicking from accent to accent, screaming profanities and talking about sex organs with an intensity that is both frightening and funny. And so begins a wordy journey in narrated poem form accompanied by short intense scenes.

Gender roles and genitalia are not conventional in this play; a cross dressed man plays a woman and man playing a woman, and a woman does the opposite back. To work out who is who and who is doing what to who is not easy as gender and associated body parts continually change as does the situations of the characters. I was not sure if this was the many bedroom moments of one couple, memories of carnal times from the past, role plays being acted out, or a combination of all. My guess is that the confusing undefined story arc was the playwright’s intention as it does leave an impression – so much sex everywhere in every way!

Though at times the scenes

outside of the narration stand up alone, they only sometimes fully
bloom, for the third person telling the story continually draws attention away. But it works – mostly; the poetry is complex and interesting enough to keep us with it much of the way.

There is a dark edge to this performed poem with a range of reoccurring themes including – incest between father and daughter, S&M elements and an unhappy sex-worker trying to squeeze more bucks out clients and move them on. Moments of sexual romance or pure physical joy are few and far between, though the final scene does offer a change of pace and some resolution.

The narration is split between the three characters (equally), much of it delivered from inside a lit box on stage. Why? I’m not sure. Is it to show the hidden nature of our sex lives and raunchy tales or to somehow contain sex in a box constructed by societal norms?

Director, Dee Easton makes some good choices and actors Laura Brenko, Amy Victoria Brooks and Nathan Porteus deliver the goods with some standout moments, especially from Brooks.

The busy set dominates with strong slanting towers and a messy floor creating a cramped and chaotic atmosphere on the tiny studio stage; in many ways serving this play – which is relentless in both its content and form.

Sex Play is not for everyone, but those seeking out something different or wanting some Sex Play ideas should be satisfied. Bakehouse Theatre’s Black Box and Adelaide Duende Collective deserve applause for taking some risks and presenting this all Adelaide experimental premiere production.


Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House