Ed Fringe, Summerhall, 19:10 until 25th Aug
Sex Education is, as the name would suggest, an educational experience that focuses on expressions of sexuality and the vulnerability that comes with subverting the traditional expectations of relationships. Beginning in a charity-shop-bought wedding dress at the back of the audience, Harry Clayton-Wright successfully combines video (a varied array of gay porn), audio (interviews with his mother and friends) while making some (very delicious) cucumber sandwiches on stage.
Harry is a captivating performer and successfully balances the entire performance: the porn doesn’t feel gratuitous, the interviews feel genuine and warm and are testament to Harry’s personality, the lip-syncing is absolutely on-point. To create a piece of theatre that’s autobiographical and genuine is a difficult balance, and Harry’s balances in a way that feels as though you’re witnessing a kind and loving soul.
It’s the interview with Harry’s mother that proves for the most poignant throughline of this piece, exploring a clear juxtaposition between his life and his mother’s – and similarly, his life and his father’s. His mother grew up Christian, married to support a homeless charity and is the antithesis of his father who is noticeably chaotic, and once built a pyramid in his garden. To an extent, the play felt as though it was exploring how parents can form us and the differences in sex education between the Christianity of Harry’s mother and the gay-porn-stash sharing of Harry’s father. The references to religion in the play are subtle, like a subtle nod to those who have grown up in similar situations, and it was enjoyable feeling that security in the story Harry was telling.
Ultimately, Sex Education looks at how we express our sexuality, what we are taught and not taught – and importantly it explicitly considers the lives that are put in danger due to a lack of proper LGBTQ+ sex education in the UK. It’s funny, it’s cheeky and it’s tender. It’s also vitally important that we consider the message it leaves us with considering the current climate for sex education.
© M. Holland 2019
Book Now to see Sex Education at The Edinburgh Fringe.
Image © Holly Revell