Following a sold-out run at The Glory, Alexis Gregory’s Sex/Crime transfers to The Soho Theatre, with the original cast and creatives returning to the production. This wildly funny, and at the same time deeply disturbing, two-hander explores a fetish scene with shocking candour.
Man ‘A’ is a professional, offering a particular kind of service that you would struggle to find in the classifieds. His niche market is to recreate the crimes of a notorious serial killer who targets gay men, his willing punters are guaranteed the most authentic of experiences and can choose from a menu of different options.
Man ‘B’ has come unprepared, and not having read the terms and conditions is disappointed to find out that the ‘authentic experience’ doesn’t actually end in a killing. This man revels in being humiliated and beaten, and in some ways sees it as a form of love, “what will we start with?” he exclaims excitedly, as Man ‘A’ produces a clipboard and tells him “admin”. Health and safety is high up on the professionals list, and the fact that every item in his playroom is covered in plastic suggests cleanliness is equally important.
The characters are fascinating, but the writing is just as ingenious. Gregory’s lyrical script seems to sing out around the theatre and it allows his Man B’s melodrama to bounce off Jonny Woo’s cool and measured exterior. These over the top moments create the best examples of comedy as killer timing and slick delivery create the perfect combination.
The comedy that shines through in the first half gives way to a more sinister and psychologically complex second half, however the comedic elements linger making it more difficult to fully appreciate what’s happening in these darker moments. There’s a fairly obvious twist toward the end, but even that goes on to take an unexpected turn.
Robert Chevara’s measured direction ensures that the brutality is evident, if not fully shown, employing a variety of techniques, including some unnerving blackouts to achieve the required results. Even the blaring disco-pop ahead of the show starting helps to create the right ambience, and the use of masks throughout extends the idea that both men are merely portraying versions of themselves.
Sex/Crime achieves a lot in its short one hour, and while some moments overshadow others, it’s a genuinely well-written play with plenty to keep the audience engaged. Alexis Gregory and Jonny Woo both pull out the fascinating aspects of each character, leaving the audience with plenty to think about on the way home.
Main Image Credit Matt Spike