Review: Sex/Crime

The Glory London
3*

Sex/Crime offers a very different type of queer narrative. ‘A’ and ‘B’ meet as part of a transaction of criminal/sexual fantasies and money. ‘A’, played by Jonny Woo, offers a specialised service of serial-killer play, which ‘B’, played by playwright Alexis Gregory, has paid for in the hopes of experiencing a ‘climatically authentic experience’. A conflict arises when ‘B’ realises that the play is really just that: play. Not the real thing, not actual death.

Inspired by high profile real-life cases of gay serial killers in the UK, Sex/Crime takes place in a plastic-sheet covered basement in an undisclosed location in London. It explores not just the crossing of moral and legal lines, but also the crossing of genres: is it comedy? Is it drama? Is it satire? Is it all of them? The playwright’s note on the program indicates a hope that the play will make audiences think, feel, and laugh, perhaps all at the same time. That was certainly my feeling throughout: should I be feeling a certain way about it? There were definitely cleverly-timed jokes, as well as thoughtfully-performed moments of intensity, but I couldn’t distinguish whether what I was feeling was good or bad.

As ‘A’ and ‘B’, Jonny Woo and Alexis Gregory explore familiar themes of queerness, but in a novel, extreme setting. What is the meaning of intimacy, connection, touch, trauma, pain, happiness, power, violence? By framing these questions in the context of death and murder, Sex/Crime offers an opportunity to look at, and into, queer themes from the darker end of the spectrum.

When ‘B’ reacts aggressively to the news that this interaction will simply be a role play, and that he won’t actually get to die in the end, and experience the ultimate ecstasy, what may we derive from it? Is there a connection here with larger themes of self-destruction and low self-regard which are often mixed up with hedonism in the gay male experience? Is the characters’ acting out of a long life together, complete with jokes of monogamy and open-relationships, which the audience acknowledged through laughter, another example of the age-old question of what it means to be in a relationship outside of heteronormative roles, expectations, and validations?

These are some of the questions I am left with after Sex/Crime. I wouldn’t say that I was able to identify with the characters’ motivations or journeys, or that I was particularly moved by their pathos, but since I have all these questions, there is definitely something relevant about this play and the way it speaks to the commodification and fetishisation of our lives.

On at The Glory (London) until the 28th April. BOOK NOW

© Ryan 2018

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