Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sex Idiot - Contact Theatre, Manchester

Writer/Performer: Bryony Kimmings
Reviewer: Jo Beggs

When it comes to sex, Bryony Kimmings has had plenty of it. She’s been a fun loving, love’em and leave ‘em kind of gal. So when she found she had a common sexual disease, retracing her steps to locate its source was an activity she could well have done without. Picking up the phone to people she’d loved and lost and to those she’s loathed and dumped seemed an equally unappealing way to spend an evening. But the subsequent journey took her in a whole different direction and gave her some tough stuff to think about. And she thought about it lots…and she made this show.

Part performance art, part comedy, part cabaret, part story-telling, Sex Idiot is a rude, poignant and funny look back at the past ten years of Bryony’s life. In spoken word, song and dance she knits together the numerous events which have made up her ‘sex life’ to date, recalling the fun, the love, the jealousy and the hurt.

Kimmings is an accomplished writer and performer. She weaves calm, still performance art with manic dancing and angry songs, moving seamlessly between them and never letting go of an enthralled audience. She’s a convincing comic both in her writing and delivery. She gently encourages audience participation without making anyone feel the least bit awkward, including what has to be an absolute theatre first - she asks for pubic hair samples from the audience – and she gets them.

Kimming’s world is reflected in David Ring Curtis’s ramshackle and rather beautiful design. Piles of odd, unexplained objects, suitcases with trees growing out of them, coloured flags, flowers, liquor. Strange talismans. Kimmings moves around from scene to scene around the space, unpacking, revealing the next part of her story. She dons extraordinary hats, a glittering kaftan, a matador suit, red patent leather killer heels. At the end of the show it’s this detritus of Kimming’s life which becomes a ritual circle in which she offers up her past.

Kimmings is delivering a rare form of theatre, a genuine cross-over between narrative and non-narrative, the popular and the alternative. Yes, the show contains all the things that theatres are duty bound to warn you about when you buy a ticket – swearing, nudity, sexual references – but the shock value is almost entirely negated by the show’s tenderness, honesty and humour. Sex Idiot is a shocking show that fails to shock, because it has no need to. 

 Runs until the 5th March 2011
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